Preliminary Prediction History

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 161

170lbs- Niko Price (13-2-0 1NC) vs James Vick (13-3-0)

Now promoted to the main card, Niko “The Hybrid” Price battles former Welterweight James “The Texicutioner” Vick in a potential FOTN Welterweight contest. Price suffered a brutal round 2 knockout against Geoff Neal, previously winning 3 of his last 4 fights including a devastating stoppage of Tim Means. Vick started his UFC pushed 9-1, but he has since lost a trio of fights, most recently suffering a knockout loss to Dan Hooker.

A towering 6’3″, Vick is finally making the long-expected move to Welterweight. He is 3-inches taller than Price, but they share the same 76″ reach. Price is the younger man by 2-years.

The cut was getting difficult for Vick and potentially compromising his durability. That being said, he was utilizing his size advantage effectively over other Lightweights. At Welterweight, that advantage will be diminished or non-existent.

Price is a smart fighter. When faced with a grappling vulnerable opponent, he grapples. When faced with a fighter he can outwork on the feet, he focusses his attention there. His willingness to step into the pocket and trade has led him to victory, but it has also cost him matchups. He has been finished in each of his last 3 defeats- twice by knockout.

With 12 of 13 wins coming inside the distance (9 by knockout), Price has demonstrated his finishing ability with regularity in the UFC.

Vick works a decent volume game, with an average output of over 4 significant strikes per minute. His movement and flow of offense improved significantly during his winning streak. Conversely, Vick’s chin is a growing concern. He has been violently knocked out on a trio of occassions, including twice over his last 3 fights. If he can get the action to the floor, the Texas-native has a decent submission game.

Vick has recorded 5 wins by submission, accounting for 3 of his first 6 UFC wins. He has completed just 2 takedowns over his 13 UFC fights.

If Vick’s durability improves at 170, the move is worth giving up the edge in size. He is also coming off of 3 consecutive defeats which should result in an increased level of desperation. Price opens himself up to taking damage and can be stopped, but he should still be the more durable fighter with greater pop in his punches. Vick will struggle with the lack of reach and physicality of heavier opposition. Price walks him down and eventually catches him during an exchange- my prediction is Niko Price to defeat James Vick by knockout.

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205lbs- Ryan Spann (15-5-0) vs Devin Clark (9-3-0)

In the newly promoted undercard main event, Ryan “Superman” Spann makes his 3rd UFC walk as he faces Devin “Brown Bear” Clark in the Light Heavyweight division. Spann has won back to back fights to start his UFC run and extend his overall winning streak to 6 consecutive fights. Clark bested Darko Stosic by decision and has alternated wins and losses over his last 5 fights.

At 6’5″, Spann stands 5-inches taller than Clark to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. “Superman” is the younger man by a year.

Clark is undersized for the division, but the cut to 185 is too draining. He wrestles well, completing at least 1 takedown in each of his 4 wins and he is 3-0 when he can land 2 or more. Packing up his wrestling he has power in his hands. Despite having zero knockouts in the UFC he hurt and nearly finished Alexandar Rakic.

Clark has been finished twice and submitted once, accounting for all of his defeats. He is undefeated in 6 trips to the scoreboard.

Despite an impressive KO of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, knockouts have accounted for just 4 of 16 wins. That being said he has finished 3 of his last 5 wins via strikes. An area of concern for “Superman” has been his conditioning. Prior to his successful debut. had lost his last 3 bouts to go beyond the opening 5 minutes.

Spann has a solid grappling game that has accounted for 10 submission wins, but he did give up 4 takedowns in his debut.

Both fighters have less than stellar chins which could lead to a stoppage win on either side. With Clark holding the wrestling edge and Spann’s questionable TDD, “Brown Bear” can dictate where he wants this bout to take place. Look for him to grind early, drag Spann to the floor and control him. Clark should be able to set a pace with his clinch pressure and top control that troubles Spann, especially as the fight advances- my prediction is Devin Clark to defeat Ryan Spann by decision.

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170lbs- Max Griffin (15-6-0) vs Alex Morono (16-5-0 1NC)

In the Welterweight division, Max “Pain” Griffin meets Houston-native Alex “The Great White” Morono. Morono is coming off of back to back wins over Song Kenan and Zak Ottow, rebounding from a 4-fight stretch that saw him win just once. Griffin took a majority win over Zelim Imadaev after back to back defeats to Curtis Millener and Thiago Alves.

Both men are 5’11”, but Max will have a 4″ reach advantage. Morono is the younger man by 5-years.

Morono is a capable BJJ practitioner but rarely opts to take his opponent to the floor. Instead, “The Great White” utilizes an aggressive striking based attack. His stance is unorthodox and he authors wide looping punches. He has finished 2 of his last 3 wins, returning to the finishing skills that he showcased on the regional scene.

Despite his jiu-jitsu skills, Morono has been vulnerable to takedown heavy attacks. He is 0-2 when his opponent completes 2 or more takedowns.

Griffin is a dog, willing to put forth maximum effort in pursuit of the finish. He has gone the distance in 5-straight fights, winning just 2. He was robbed in the Alves decision and started strong against Millender before faltering in rounds 2 and 3. Griffing is a more diversified fighter than his foe, working a boxing attack on the feet and mixing in his wrestling where appropriate.

Over his last 3 fights, he has completed 9 takedowns on 17 attempts- including 6 in his last fight.

Max’s has a tendency to fade and Morono has shown he can push a strong pace deep into a fight. But, Griffin is the more skilled striker and has a little more power behind his techniques. He was able to avoid Mike Perry’s power and should find success here as well. Further, look for Griffin to continue to utilize his wrestling in the face of Morono’s leaky defensive work. Griffin sticks to the outside with technical striking volume and catches Alex with solid level changes for top control- my prediction is Max Griffin to defeat Alex Morono by decision.

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125lbs- #3 Deiveson Figueiredo (15-1-0) vs #6 Tim Elliott (15-8-1)

Former title challenger Tim Elliott squares off with Brazils Deiveson Figueiredo in the Flyweight division. Figueiredo lost to Jussier Formiga, the first defeat of his career, but rallied to beat Alexandre Pantoja on the scorecards. Elliott is returning after a prolonged layoff- he is 2-2 over his last 4 with a win over Mark De La Rossa last time out.

Elliott hasn’t fought in nearly 2-years after an ACL injury. He is the taller man by 2-inches, but he will give up 2-inches of reach to the Brazilian.

Despite working his way to a title shot, Elliott is just 4-6 inside the Octagon. Over his 4 wins, he has recorded 26 total takedowns, including his UFC-best 12 against Louis Smolka. Elliott utilizes a lot of unorthodox movement in his offense, moving around the cage and looking to set up takedown opportunities.

He has struggled against opponents that he is unable to bully to the floor with regularity- he averages well under 2 completions per defeat.

Figueiredo throws absolute hammers. He has finished 9 opponents by knockout, 3 in the UFC. He showcased excellent head movement against Pantoja, slipping out of range and landing devastating elbows and punches- hurting his foe on multiple occasions. He does a decent job of picking his moments to engage and when to sit back and counter.

Deiveson has a serviceable submission attack that could catch Elliott if he gets careless, but the Brazilian has had some issues with his TDD.

If Tim is going to get a win, he needs to weaponize his pace effectively without opening himself up. His willingness to allow his defense to lapse while attacking will give Figueiredo plenty of opportunities to inflict damage of the course of the fight. Elliott simply lacks the striking skills to compete on the feet and he will struggle to find success with his takedowns- my prediction is Deiveson Figueiredo to defeat Tim Elliott by TKO.

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135lbs- Marlon Vera (13-5-1) vs Andre Ewell (14-5-0)

With 4-straight wins, Marlon “Chito” Vera attempts to continue his momentum when he takes on “Mr. Highlight” Andre Ewell in the Bantamweight division. Vera holds recent wins over Frankie Saenz and Nohelin Hernandez. Ewell is 2-1 in the UFC, upsetting former champion Renan Barao in his debut, falling to Ethan Woods by sub, and overcoming Anderson dos Santos last time out.

Both fighters are tall for the division at 5’8″, but Ewell will have a sizable 5″ reach advantage. Vera is the younger fighter by 4-years.

With both men traditionally holding a length advantage over their opponent, it will be interesting to see who can make the needed adjustments. With Ewell still holding a reaching advantage and doing his best work on the feet, he may have the edge in this scenario.

“Mr. Highlight” has power (7 knockouts) and offers a solid striking arsenal. Ewell will want to keep this fight standing and pressure Vera on the feet. Vera has traditionally been a slow starter and can be backed up by an aggressive opponent.

While Marlon can hold his own on the feet, but his advantage on the mat should be his central focus. Vera has secured 8 wins by submission and has secured takedowns in 3 of his last 4 fights. He is a lot to handle on the mat, offering a nice variety of submission offense.

Ewell has struggled on the floor, suffering through a trio of submission losses and giving up 7 takedowns over 3 fights.

Vera could win this fight with a steadily flow of striking pressure. That being said, the American is more than capable of hurting Vera and utilizing his reach to keep Marlon out of effective range. Ultimately, the defensive grappling issues that Ewell has experienced plays directly into Vera’s strength. Look for Marlon to take Ewell to the floor setting up either a wide decision or submission win- my prediction is Marlon Vera to defeat Andre Ewell by submission.

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170lbs- Miguel Baeza (6-0-0) vs Hector Aldana (4-2-0)

An 0-2 start to his UFC tenure has Hector Aldana facing the cutting block when he meets the debuting Miguel Baeza in the Welterweight division. Aldana dropped his debut to Kenan Song by TKO and lost his sophomore outing to Laureano Staropoli by decision. Baeza is undefeated, including a 2019 Tuesday Night Contender’s Series victory on the scorecards- he turned pro in 2016.

Baeza is 3 inches taller than Aldana to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Baeza is the younger fighter by 4-years.

The UFC newcomer has finished 4 of his 6 wins by knockout- 3 in the opening round. Baez has power in his right and scored an early knockdown in his Contenders bout. He will mix in some hard leg and body kicks and hurt his foe with some well-timed knee strikes. He has a tendency to get predictable and needs to vary his offense up to be effective.

Baez has zero wins by submission, but he went for a late sub but was unable to secure it and ended up on his back.

Mexico’s Aldana showed his willingness to sit down and trade at close range. He will throw multi-punch combos which cost him in his debut, leading to a knockout and he suffered some serious facial damage in his next fight. Prior to making his debut, Aldana had a decent run on the Latin American TUF, but sat out nearly 5-years between pro fights.

Hector earned a Fight of the Night bonus in a losing effort against Staropoli.

Aldana has stayed in the UFC because he is willing to throw caution to the wind and scrap. That style has not equated to victories at this level, but it is sure entertaining. Baeza is the more diversified fighter, but he will also willingly engage in a firefight. Miguel stands to have more power, superior durability, and a length advantage; that is too much for Aldana- my prediction is Miguel Baeza to defeat Hector Aldana by knockout.

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185lbs- Marvin Vettori (13-4-1) vs Andrew Sanchez (12-4-0)

The first of 2 Middleweight scraps on the card will feature Italy’s Marvin Vettori battling TUF Champion Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez. Vettori secured a decision win over Cezar Ferreira to rebound from his split decision loss over the newly crowned Middleweight champion- he is 3-2-1 in the UFC. Sanchez is coming off back to back wins after suffering through a pair of defeats- he is 4-2 inside the Octagon.

This fight was originally booked to play out in early September, but Sanchez was forced to pull out.

Vettori is the younger man by 5-years, with Sanchez standing an inch taller and sharing the same 74″ reach.

Sanchez’s success has largely come on the strength of his takedowns. He has completed 15 takedowns over 6 fights, but in his 2 UFC defeats he has landed 7 compared to 8 over his 4 victories.

The glaring concern for “El Dirte” has been his cardio- he has a tendency to slow down in fights and did so in both his round 3 knockout defeats.

Vettori is a grinder. He does a good job of staying active with function offense, forcing his opponent to work and unleashing a steady flow of damage. At his best, he lands in the 65 to 75 significant strike range and is coming off his UFC best 78 strikes landed.

At 79% his TDD is solid and he has 8 wins by submission. While his first UFC loss did come due to a 4-pack of takedowns secured by Antonio Carlos Junior, Vettori successfully stuffed all 5 TDAs offered against Ferreira.

Sanchez has shown recent improvement in his pacing, but Vettori is going to test him. If Andrew can secure multiple takedowns over the first 2 frames he could work his way to a decision. That approach has cost him twice in previous fights and while Vettori is far from a knockout machine, he is still dangerous on the feet. Look for Marvin to battle through a few early TDAs, land decent volume and keep pushing as Sanchez becomes far less effective- my prediction is Marvin Vettori to defeat Andrew Sanchez by decision.

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125lbs- JJ Aldrich (7-3-0) vs Lauren Mueller (5-1-0)

The opening contest of the night goes down in the Women’s Flyweight division as JJ Aldrich takes on Lauren “Princess Tiger” Mueller. Aldrich is coming off a comeback loss to Maycee Barber that saw her finished in round 2 after a strong start- she had won 3 straight fights. Mueller is coming off of back to back losses- after a successful debut win over Shana Dobson.

Both girls are an identical 5’5″ with a 67″ reach, but Mueller formerly fought at 135 pounds and JJ at 115 pounds. Aldrich is the younger fighter by a year.

Mueller’s pre-UFC run took place under the Gladiator Challenge banner against a trio of foes with a combined 0-7 record. Her first UFC opponent was just 3-1 at the time and is now 3-3. These numbers suggest a potential answer for her recent struggles.

Offering a striking heavy approach in each of her last 2 fights, Mueller may look to take Aldrich down- an area that JJ has struggled with.

Aldrich has found success with a consistent striking offense, working a technical boxing game backed by sound footwork and linear combinations. Against Baber, JJ stunned her with a hard left hand early and utilized counters as Maycee came forward.

She landed her UFC-best 98 strikes against Chan-Mi Jeon in 2017.

Aldrich was finished by Baber- it will be interesting to see how she rebounds. Mueller is going to struggle to match Aldrich on the feet, with JJ holding notable edges in volume, footwork, and overall technical skill. If Mueller can bully her along the cage and score some takedowns, that is her best avenue to victory. Aldrich will rebound with a more active boxing attack, both initiating exchanges and countering Lauren as she comes forward- my prediction is JJ Aldrich to defeat Lauren Mueller by decision.

UFC 243

170lbs- Jake Matthews (13-4-0) vs Rostem Akman (6-1-0)

In the final fight of the undercard, TUF alumni and Australian event staple Jake “The Celtic Kid” Matthews battles Sweden’s Rostem Akman in the Welterweight division. Matthews is coming off a submission loss to Rocco Martin- he had won 3 in a row. Akman lost his debut, the first loss of his pro career, via decision to Russia’s Sergey Khandozhko.

Matthews is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. He is 3-years younger than the Swede.

Rostem took his debut on short notice and while he held his own, he simply didn’t do enough. He ha finished all of his wins inside the distance- 5 by knockout. Akman suffered a knockdown that appears to change the course of the fight and he began to slow down after the first frame. He attempted 5 takedowns and completed 2.

Matthews was a fighter that has developed physically and as a result, he has had to move up to 170-pounds. He held his own until he ran into a fellow former Lightweight in Martin. “The Celtic Kid” has improved his striking, but he does his best work on the mat. He has completed 13-takedowns over 7 Octagon wins compared to just 4 in his 4 UFC losses.

Unless Rostem can find an answer for the combination of Matthews’ physicality and wrestling, he will struggle to score enough offensive points to overcome the Aussie. Matthews’ striking has improved with each outing and should do so again here. Akman is capable enough to exploit an off performance from Jake, but he will be on point at home- my prediction is Jake Matthews to defeat Rostem Akman by decision.

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170lbs- Callan Potter (17-8-0) vs Maki Pitolo (11-4-0)

Promotional sophomore Callan “The Rockstar” Potter takes on promotional debutant and Contenders Series graduate Maki Pitolo in the Welterweight division. Potter made a short notice debut against Jalin Turner and lost via 53-second knockout- he is a 1-2 after an 8 fight winning streak. Pitolo had a great first impression on the Contenders Series winning via first-round TKO, he was also successful in his recent Bellator debut.

They share the same 72″ reach, but Potter is the taller man by 2-inches. Callan has fought at both Lightweight and Welterweight and is 6-years older than his foe.

Potter has only seen the scorecards once in his career, recording 6 wins by knockout and 10 bys submission. He has asl been finished 8-times- split evenly between knockouts and submissions. Against Turner, he shot for a takedown early and started chaining submissions together once they hit the mat.

Pitolo’s hands looked excellent during his Contenders bout. He maintained solid pressure, throwing in combinations while targetting both the head and body. He eventually put his foe down with a sequence of body strikes along the wall. He took the fight at Middleweight.

Potter’s history of stoppage defeats and an overall lack of defensive striking are hard to overlook here. Despite coming in as the shorter fighter, Maki is the larger man and he should have a sizeable advantage in power. His striking game will exploit the gaps in Potter’s game and his experience in longer fights will allow him to maintain his attack as long as he needs to. Pitolo will batter Potter along the wall until the Aussie hits the canvas- my prediction is Maki Pitolo to defeat Callan Potter by knockout.

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145lbs- Megan Anderson (9-3-0) vs Zarah Fairn dos Santos (6-2-0)

As Aussie Megan Anderson continues to hold on in the quickly disappearing Women’s Featherweight division, she welcomes the debuting Zarah Fairn dos Santos to the UFC. Anderson is coming off of a submission loss to Felicia Spencer– dropping her UFC record to 1-2. dos Santos makes her debut on the strength of a 3-fight winning streak- besting 1 and done UFC alumni Izabela Badurek by TKO.

At a towering 6’0″, Anderson is just 2-inches taller than dos Santos. She is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Some immediate red flags are attached to the debuting dos Santos. She hasn’t fought in almost 2-years and her last 3 opponents are a combined 20-17 with none of them listed as legit Featherweights.

Anderson is a talented fighter and offers a strong physical presence, but she has struggled tremendously with her grappling defense. Holly Holm took her down on multiple occasions and Spencer made quick work of her on the floor.

Both fighters will be inclined to stay vertical and trade on the feet- this is the long-overdue stylistic matchup that Anderson has been looking for. Zarah is linear in her attack and offers a relatively simplistic striking attack. Anderson is the more diverse striker and she should have the speed and power advantages as well. Fighting at home, the former Invicta champion will enjoy a return to form- my prediction is Megan Anderson to defeat Zarah Fairn dos Santos by TKO.

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155lbs- Jamie Mullarkey (8-2-0) vs Brad Riddell (5-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, a battle of Australia and New Zealand will play out as Aussie Jamie Mullarkey meets Kiwi Brad Riddell. Mullarkey has lost back to back fights by knockout after starting his pro career 8-0- his first pro loss came to future title contender Alexander Volkanovski. Riddell has won 3 in a row since the first and only loss of his career- he is 3-0 in 2019.

Both men are 5’8″. Mullarkey is the younger man by 3-years. Mullarkey has not fought in over 3-years.

Riddell trains alongside Israel Adesanya and has compiled an impressive record as a pro kickboxer. Not surprisingly, 4 of his 5 wins have come by knockout- 3 in the first frame. Additionally, his only career loss came by sub which isn’t out of character for a striking based fighter.

Mullarkey has spread his finishes more evenly between submissions (3) and knockouts (4). He is finished 5 opponents in the opening frame. All 3 of his submission wins have come by RNC and he may look to implement a ground-based attack against Riddell to avoid his striking. Mullarkey has competed as low as 145-lbs which suggests he will be the smaller man.

If Mullarkey can bring this fight to the floor he could certainly attack a potential weakness of his opponent. For Riddell, he will be the larger man which will aid him in defending the early TDAs. It is also difficult to overlook the prolonged layoff for Mullarkey and the back to back knockout losses with his 2nd coming to a 7-9 fighter. Riddell is in a much better spot here, if he can defend the early TDAs- my prediction is Brad Riddell to defeat Jamie Mullarkey by knockout.

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125lbs- Nadia Kassem (5-1-0) vs Ji Yeon Kim (7-2-2)

In the first of 2 women’s fights on the card, Nadia Kassem welcomes South Korea’s Ji Yeon Kim to her homeland for a Flyweight bout. Kassem is coming off her first career defeat, a submission loss to Montana De La Rosa. Kim’s UFC ledge fell to an even 2-2 after a decision loss to Antonina Shevchenko.

Kim is the taller fighter by 2-inches to go along with a 6″ reach advantage. Kassem is the younger fighter by 6-years.

Kassem came into the UFC with a record built on beating low-level opponents very early in the first round. Since coming to the UFC, her defense wrestling has been a major concern. She gave up multiple takedowns in her debut and was submitted in her next performance.

Despite incorporating a ground attack on the regional scene, Kim has attempted just 1 takedown over 4-fights. In the UFC, she has relied heavily on her boxing, throwing with decent volume. It is worth noting that her 2 UFC victories have both come via split decision. She does a decent job of pushing the pace late in rounds to help her edge out close rounds.

Kassem’s record is far from strong and Kim’s scrappy nature will test an opponent that has had minimal success beyond the opening round. Nadia’s struggles on floor could induce Ji Yeon to incorporate a few takedowns. Look for Kim to keep this fight at boxing range against a kick-heavy opponent, picking up the pace as the fight progresses and potentially securing a couple of key takedowns- my prediction is Ji Yeon Kim to defeat Nadia Kassem by decision.

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135lbs- Khalid Taha (12-2-0) vs Bruno Silva (10-3-2)

In the first fight of the night, Khalid “The Warrior” Taha takes on the debuting Brazilian Bruno “Bulldog” Silva in the Bantamweight division. Taha smashed his way through Boston Salmon in just 25-seconds to rebound from an unsuccessful debut. Silva has won back to back fights dating back to a Split Draw with current UFC roster member Casey Kenney.

At 5’5″, Taha is an inch taller than Silva and 2-years younger. Silva, who is listed as a natural Flyweight, has not seen action in almost a year.

Taha landed a crushing left hand that abruptly ended his fight with Salmon. He has finished 11 of his 13 wins- 9 by knockout. Over his last 4 fights he has lost both times he has been forced beyond the first round. In his debut, he spent the majority of the fight on his back which both nullified his striking threat and extended the fight into deep waters.

Silva has split his 6 finishes evenly between knockouts and subs including a trio of 3rd round stoppages. He is 4-1 in decisions. The Brazilian throws a variety of offense and owns an impressive wheel kick knockout. He will take the fight to the floor if presented with the opportunity. Silva competed on 4th season of TUF Brazil and his last 3 opponents carry a combined 32-29 record.

The size factor favours Taha as the more natural Bantamweight. If Silva can find some success with his ground attack he could extend Khalid into the second half of the fight and slow him down. In order to do that, he will need to evade the power striking of the German “Bulldozer”- not easy. Taha will work inside Silva’s kicks and blast him with big strikes- my prediction is Khalid Taha to defeat Bruno Silva by TKO.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 160

185lbs- Alen Amedovski (8-1-0) vs John Phillips (21-9-0)

The final undercard fight stands to be an absolute barn burner as Macedonia knockout artist Alen Amendovski meets “The Welsh Wrecking Machine” John Phillips in the Middleweight division. Amedovski dropped his debut by decision to Krysztof Jotko, blemishing his perfect record. Phillips is winless in 3 UFC fights, but he is coming off a hard-fought split decision loss to Jack Marshman.

Phillips is an inch taller and will have an inch of reach on Amedovski. The Macedonian is 3-years younger.

With 18 wins by knockout, Phillips’ approach is both fan-friendly and flawed. He has finished 17 of his 21 wins in the opening round compared to a 4-3 record outside of the first. John is a scrapper but struggled at times to pull the trigger against Marshman and lost a narrow fight that was contested on the feet.

Over his first 2 UFC defeats, Phillips was taken down multiple times and suffered submission losses #4 and 5.

Amendovski opening round knockout heavy record also succumbed to a grappling heavy attack, with Jotko grinding him into the floor over the course of 15 minutes. Alen landed just 6 significant strikes while giving up 4 takedowns. Defending takedowns should not be an issue against Phillips.

He showcased his power during a successful 2-fight stint in Bellator, stopping his opponents in a combined 1:52.

For however long this fight lasts, it should be fun. Amedovski is younger, quicker, and more technical. He also could opt to mix in some grappling against an incredibly ground deficient opponent. Phillips has been knocked out twice and was hurt by Holland, Amedovski should be able to hur the Welshman too- my prediction is Alen Amedovski to defeat John Phillips by knockout.

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185lbs- Alessio Di Chirico (12-3-0) vs Makhmud Muradov (22-6-0)

In the Middleweight division, Makhmud Muradov makes his promotional debut when he takes on Italy’s Alessio Di Chirico. Di Chirico dropped a decision to Kevin Holland to see his UFC record fall to 3-3. Muradov has won 11 straight fights including an impressive 4-0 mark in 2019 with wins over a couple of UFC veterans.

Murado is 2-inches taller to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. He is also a year younger than Di Chirico.

With 18 finishes, including 15 wins- Muradov offers an action-based attack. He melds together an active striking game with his takedowns and he has shown the ability to finish anywhere the fight goes.

Muradov is replacing Peter Sobotta on less than 2-weeks notice.

Di Chirico keeps his offensive output simple. He throws primarily single strikes with a steady, but far from overwhelming output. His wrestling is serviceable, but not dominant. He has landed takedowns in all but 1 of his UFC fights, but he is just 3-2 when completing a takedown.

Alessio carries a 3-2 record on the scorecards, including a pair of split decision wins in the UFC.

Muradov is a dangerous fighter, but he is taking a big step up in competition on short notice. His all-action style could get him a finish, but he also tends to rely on big moments that might be harder to obtain at this level. If he is unable to hurt Di Chirico, look for the Italian’s offense to be more consistent and impactful. Once Murado starts to slow, Alessio will pull away- my prediction is Alessio Di Chirico to defeat Makhmud Muradov by decision.

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170lbs- Siyar Bahadurzada (24-7-1) vs Ismail Naurdiev (18-3-0)

Afghanistan’s Siyar “The Great” Bahadurzada prepares to take on the “Austrian Wonderboy” Ismail Naurdiev in the Welterweight division. Bahadurzada’s 3-fight winning streak came to an end against Curtis Millender, dropping a wide decision. Naurdiev had also won 3 in a row including an upset of Michel Prazeres in his debut- he most recently was defeated by Chance Rencountre in another significant upset.

Bahadurzada is an inch taller than Naurdiev, but he will give up an inch of reach. Ismail is 12-years younger.

Naurdiev is a capable striker, offering a wide array of offensive techniques. Unfortunately, Rencountre exploited a significant area of vulnerability, dragging Ismail to the floor on multiple occasions and keeping him on his back.

“The Austrian Wonderboy” has finished 16 of his 18 wins- 11 by knockout. He has recorded 13 wins in the first frame, but is just 2-2 in decisions.

A lack of activity has prevented Bahadurzada from finding much momentum in the UFC. He has been out for nearly 10-months. Siyar is a dangerous puncher, but his lack of variety and subpar gas tank have hampered his performances when he can’t score an early finish.

Similar to his opponent, Siyar has finished 20 opponents, 13 by knockout, compared to a 4-5 mark in decisions.

Naurdiev was unable to overcome the wrestling of his last opponent. Conversely, Bahadurzada landed 3 takedowns in his last fight, but failed to do enough against a striker with a clear vulnerability on the mat. Ismail is the more diverse striker and should have a speed and cardio advantage. Unless Siyar finds unexpected success with his wrestling or can hurt Naurdiev, he will struggle to keep up with the Austrian- my prediction is Ismail Naurdiev to defeat Siyar Bahadurzada by decision.

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145lbs- Brandon Davis (10-5-0) vs Giga Chikadze (7-2-0)

After a 1-1 stint at Bantamweight, Brandon “Killer B” Davis returns to Featherweight to take on the debuting Giga Chikadze of Georgia. Davis is coming off of a split decision loss to Kyung Ho Kang after a submission win over Randy Costa. Chikadze has won back to back fights after an unsuccessful bid on Dana’s Tuesday Night Contenders Series.

Chikadze is the taller man by 2-inches, but they share the same 72″ reach. Davis is the younger man by 2-years.

Breaking down Chikadze’s record; all 7 of his wins have come under the Gladiator Challenge banner- an organization that is notorious for setting up lobsided fights. Not surprisingly, his 7 opponents carry a combined record of 3-65.

He has finished all 7 of his wins in the first round, 4 inside the opening 60-seconds, and 5 by knockout. Both of his defeats went to round 3. As a kickboxer, he carries a 38-6-0 record.

Davis is an aggressive, durable, and gritty fighter. He has struggled at times with opponents that don’t want to engage him in a standing brawl. Further, his adversaries have found success landing multiple takedowns which won’t be an issue here.

Davis is 2-0 when his foe land 1 or fewer completions.

Giga is a capable kickboxer with a nice array of kicks, but he lacks any quality MMA experience. He struggled significantly with the ground attack of his Contenders Series opponent and his first-round finish heavy record is a massive red flag. Davis had some issues with the kicking attack of Costa, but wisely got the fight to the floor and took over. He will replicate that approach here. Davis drags Chikadze into deep waters and drowns him- my prediction is Brandon Davis to defeat Giga Chikadze by submission.

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135lbs- #11 Macy Chiasson (5-0-0) vs #12 Lina Lansberg (9-4-0)

TUF 28 winner Macy Chiasson looks to continue her torrid start to her UFC career when she takes on Sweden’s Lina Lansberg in the Women’s Bantamweight division. Chiasson is 3-0 in the UFC, finishing all 3 of her opponents including a TKO victory over Sarah Moras in her last fight. Lansberg secured a decision win over former Invicta champion Tonya Evinger to continue her pattern of alternating wins and losses over her 6-fight UFC run.

Macy will stand a full 4-inches taller than her opponent to go along with a 7″ reach advantage. She is also the younger fighter by 9-years.

Lansberg showcased her toughness against Cyborg in her debut, but overall she has now been finished by TKO on 3 separate occasions. She does the majority of her work on the feet, utilizing a clinch heavy assault.

Lina is coming off of her best overall performance but in the majority of her fight, she has struggled to match the vertical output of her foe.

Chiasson has started to turn some heads with her brutal finishing ability. She hits extremely hard and utilizes her size effectively. She survived a takedown from the ground orient Moras and was able to eventually overwhelm her with volume and power.

Defensively, Macy utilizes a strong sprawl and she is capable of translating defensive position into offensive opportunities with either GNP or sub attempts.

Lansberg is going to struggle to outmuscle the much larger and younger Chiasson which could force her to avoid the clinch position. Additionally, Lina has struggled when put on her back and Macy devastating top game will magnify those issues. No matter the position, Macy hits too hard and carries too steep of a pace for Lina to contend with- my prediction is Macy Chiasson to defeat Lina Lansberg by TKO.

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155lbs- Marc Diakiese (13-3-0) vs Lando Vannata (10-3-2)

A battle of multi-fight UFC veterans sees Marc “Bonecrusher” Diakiese take on “Groovy” Lando Vannata in the UFC Lightweight division. Diakiese scored a decision win over Joe Duffy to snap a 3-fight losing skid- he is 4-3 in the promotion. Vannata is also coming off a win after 0-2-2 stretch that nearly knocked him from the promotion.

Diakiese is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by a year.

Against Duffy, Diakiese returned to his dynamic striking ways against Duffy. He looked fast with his hands and blasted the legs of Duffy, clearly damaging his base. He rocked Duffy with a beautiful step in elbow. He has struggled against more aggressive opposition, willing to force him backwards.

The cardio of Diakiese has not been great. He is just 2-3 over his last 5 3-round fights.

Lando is a multi-faceted fighter with a capable submission game and good striking. He has recorded 4 wins by knockout and 5 by submission. Against Bobby Green, he found success early and had Green in trouble until landing an illegal knee that stopped the fight and cost him a point. Vannata has also taken down each of his last 5 opponents.

Vannata has had issues with the aggression of his opponents, often allowing them to dictate the pace of the fight.

The American defeated an opponent in his last fight that should probably not be on the UFC roster. Diakiese’s last win was more impressive but came over an opponent coming off of a sizeable layoff. Diakiese’s cardio issues still exist and while Vannata has also had pacing issues, he is more capable of fighting a full 15-minutes than his foe. Look for Lando to utilize his wrestling early to slow Diakese down and take the fight over as the fight advances- my prediction is Lando Vannata to defeat Marc Diakiese by submission.

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135lbs- Jack Shore (11-0-0) vs Nohelin Hernandez (10-3-0)

In the first fight of the night, Jack “Tank” Shore debuts against promotional sophomore Nohelin “Suave” Hernandez in the Bantamweight division. Shore turned pro in 2016 and has gone undefeated including a 2018 decision win over Vaughan Lee. Hernandez made an unsuccessful venture into the Octagon with a submission loss to Marlon Vera in July.

Hernandez is the taller man by 2-inches but they have the same reach. Shore is a year younger.

While Shore has cut his teeth under the Cage Warriors banner, Hernandez has fought in a number of different organizations. Prior to coming to the UFC, Hernandez fought in Bellator, LFA, and Tachi Palace Fights.

Hernandez started strong, defending on the mat against Vera and doing work from top position. He moves well and offers a solid striking attack. He has just a trio of knockout wins, but he is a solid 6-1 on the scorecards. Prior to getting subbed he got cracked with a well-timed knee that put him on the floor.

The Welsh fighter has finished 10 of his 11 wins- 6 in the opening round. Shore secured the Cage Warriors Bantamweight title via knockout back in December of 2018 and submitted his foe in her first title defense. He has a solid back take, winning 5-times by rear-naked choke.

Shore also tends to be aggressive which has worked for him so far, but could become an issue as his quality of competition increases.

Shore’s submission game could capitalize on the issues that have seen Hernandez get subbed twice. The American did show solid defensive skills on the mat prior to getting hurt and tapped. Additionally, Hernandez took his debut on short notice and should be in a much better spot here. Hernandez looked good on the feet against Vera and should find success here as well. Shore’s success on the regional scene will give him a lot of momentum, but my prediction is Nohelin Hernandez to defeat Jack Shore by decision.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 159

135lbs- Jose Quinonez (8-3-0) vs Carlos Huachin (10-3-1)

The final clash of the prelims goes down in the Bantamweight division as Mexico’s Jose “El Teco” Quinonez takes on Peruvian Carlos Huachin. Huachin lost his debut to Ranoi Barcelos ending a strong 6-0-1 stretch. Quinonez had won 4 straight after his TUF tournament final’s loss, but he is coming off a submission loss to Nathaniel Wood.

Quinonez is 1-inch taller to go along with 2-inch reach advantage. Huachin is the younger man by 6-years.

Huachin has some pop in his hands, winning the majority of his fight by knockout. Most of his wins have come in the opening frame and he is a dismal 1-4-2 after the first 5-minutes. Prior to coming to the UFC, Carlos’s combined opposition carried a sub .500 record.

Quinonez utilizes his length well when striking and he has shown he can mix in takedowns as well. His volume is serviceable when mixed with well-timed completions. He has just a single finish over his last 5 fights. The Wood pairing appeared to be too much, too soon. Overall, he has lost 2 of his last 3 fights in Mexico.

The power of Huachin is his key to victory- but that window is limited. His poor record outside of the opening round will be further complicated by the impact of the elevation on his cardio. Look for Quinonez to work on the outside with his long-range weapons before changing levels for a takedown. As the fight advances, Huachin will become less effective on the feet and more vulnerable to the takedowns- my prediction is Jose Quinonez to defeat Carlos Huachin by decision.

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155lbs- Marco Polo Reyes (8-6-0) vs Kyle Nelson (12-3-0)

A Canadian will make the trek down south as Kyle “The Monster” Nelson takes on Mexico’s Maro Polo Reyes in the Lightweight division. Reyes has lost 3 of his last 4 fights after winning his opening 3 UFC bouts- all but 1 of his UFC fights have ended via knockout. Nelson is still looking for his first UFC win, he has been finished twice including by Matt Sayles in his most recent outing.

Both fighters are 5’11” and share a 71″ reach. Nelson is the younger man by 7-years. Reyes is making his first UFC cut to 145-pounds.

Reyes has put together some entertaining fights, but his willingness to absorb damage is starting to catch up with him. He has recorded 6 wins by knockout compared to 4 defeats by TKO or KO. Reyes has power, but he simply eats too much offense. Further, he got mauled by Damir Hadzovic on the mat- demonstrating a vulnerability to a takedown heavy attack.

In a similar fashion, Nelson has been an all-action fighter but has yet to reap the benefits. Nelson both found success and struggle on the mat against Sayles. His willingness to sell out for sub attempts got him battered in round 1, but in round 2 he took and held his foe’s back- nearly sinking the RNC.

With Reyes’ power, he can hurt almost anyone- but he needs to connect. To have success on the feet, Reyes will need to stay vertical. Nelson hits very hard himself and has solid grappling skills which could exploit Reye’s struggles on the floor. The cut to 145-pounds could give Reyes a size advantage, but it could also compromise his durability and conditioning. Nelson will press the action early and most likely take Reyes to the floor for either a sub attempt or GNP- my prediction is Kyle Nelson to defeat Marco Polo Reyes.

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115lbs- Ariane Carnelossi (12-1-0) vs Angela Hill (9-6-0)

In the Strawweight division, former Invicta champion Angela Hill takes on short-notice replacement Ariane Carnelossi. Hill is just 3-5 in her last 8 UFC fights, including a 1-2 run in 2019. Carnelossi has won 12 in a row since her pro debut defeat which came back in 2014 against now UFC fighter Amanda Ribas- she has yet to fight this year.

Carnelossi took this fight with roughly a month to prepare. She is an inch shorter than Hill, but 7-years younger.

As the new debuting fighter, Carnelossi has finished 8 of her 12 wins by knockout- just 3 in the first round. Her last 3 of opponents are a combined 20-11. As the numbers indicate, she hits very hard and throws a nice variety of strikes.

Hill has built her attack round a mobile volume-based striking offense. She has surpassed the century mark in significant strikes on 5 different occasions. Hill utilizes solid footwork and movement but she doesn’t offer a lot of power.

While both girls are strikers, this bout will most likely come down to power versus volume. Hill needs to utilize her lateral movement to force the aggressive power punching Carnelossi to remain in pursuit. Carnelossi hits hard, but she can be linear in her attack and her heavily muscled build won’t hold up well in the altitude against a mobile opponent. Hill will need to be wary of the early exchanges, but once Ariane slows down Angela will take over- my prediction is Angela Hill to defeat Ariane Carnelossi by decision.

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125lbs- #5 Sergio Pettis (17-5-0) vs Tyson Nam (18-9-1)

With Alex Perez pulling out of the fight, former WSOF competitor Tyson Nam gets his first UFC opportunity when he takes on Sergio Pettis in the Flyweight division. Nam has lost just once in his last 8 including a 5-1-1 record since moving to 125-pounds- he knocked out Ali Baugatinov back in 2017. After a 5-1 stretch, Pettis has lost back to back fights including a Bantamweight bout against Rob Font.

Nam is an inch taller, but he will give up an inch of reach. The UFC newcomer is 10-years older than Pettis.

With 10 wins by knockout, including stoppages of Eduard Dantas and the aforementioned Baugatinov, Nam packs some serious power. Nam relies heavily on his boxing, but he will augment his standup with decent kicks. He does a decent job of pressing forward to engage, but at times he will allow his foe to the lead the exchanges.

Pettis offers a sharp striking attack working in solid variety. He has a solid jab and in recent fights, he has worked towards improving his output. While he has had some success with his takedowns and is capable of working off of his back, Pettis’ TDD has been a focal point of his adversaries. He has given up at least 1 takedown in 7 straight fights.

Nam’s near .500 record in decisions is a product of his lack of urgency. He is simply too willing to wait for his moments to deploy his power and if the opportunities don’t come, he often gets outworked. Pettis’ chin is not ironclad, but his superior work rate and more linear offense will help him to avoid the majority of Nam’s power. Look for Pettis to outwork Nam on the feet and even add in a couple of his own takedowns- my prediction is Sergio Pettis to defeat Tyson Nam by decision.

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205lbs- Vinicius Moreira (9-2-0) vs Paul Craig (11-3-0)

The heaviest fight on the card features a battle of grapplers as BJJ Black belt Vinicius Moreira takes on Scotland’s submission ace Paul “Bearjew” Craig in the Light Heavyweight division. Craig is coming off a violent knockout against Alonzo Menifield- he had won 2 of his previous 3 fights. Moreira is 0-2 in the UFC, including a knockout defeat versus Menifield- he scored a submission win on the Brazilian Tuesday Night Contenders Series to get the call to the UFC.

Moreira is the taller man by an inch, but they will share the same 76″ reach. The Scot is 2-years older.

Craig and Moreira share a couple of key similarities. Both have found their greatest level of success on the floor; Vinicius 8 of 9 wins by knockout and Craig 10 of 11. Conversely, they have both struggled on the feet- each suffering a trio of knockout defeats.

The Brazilian seems to thrive from top position but lacks a strong wrestling attack to routinely take his opponent down. For Craig, he has found a lot of success working off of his back- including his signature triangle choke finish.

Craig has found some success with his wrestling but may opt to force a striking battle. Craig has demoed mild improvements in his standup, but Moreira looks lost. The Brazilian’s attack centers so much around closing the distance that he will eat shot to do so- it has not worked well for him at this level. Additionally, Moreira has gone to the second round just 3 times while Craig has found success in longer fights. This suggests the Scot will have the edge if this bout is drawn out. Craig is the superior striker and unless Vinicius can take him down and finish early, he will struggle- my prediction is Paul Craig to defeat Vinicius Moreira by TKO.

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135lbs- #14 Sijara Eubanks (5-2-0) vs Bethe Correia (10-3-1)

Long removed from her unsuccessful Bantamweight title shot, Bethe Correia looks for her first win since 2016 when she battles former Strawweight contender Sijara Eubanks. Eubanks is 2-1 in the UFC, coming off a rematch defeat against Aspen Ladd. After a strong start, Correia fell victim to the submission games of Irene Aldana- she is just 1-4-1 over her last 6 fights.

Correia is the taller fighter by an inch, but she will give up 3-inches of reach to her foe. Eubanks is 2-years younger. Bethe missed weight in her last fight by 6-pounds.

The Brazilian is a decision machine with 8 of her 10 wins coming on the card. While she has a solid record in decisions, she has battled through a trio of split decisions- winning 2.

Eubanks made the move to 135 after difficulty with the weight cut. She is still a physical fighter and can use her wrestling effectively, but her boxing will most likely be at the centerpiece of her offense against Bethe.

Correia will benefit from not facing a taller fighter, but her slack of striking variety makes her predictable and ineffective at times. Eubanks might struggle to land takedowns against Bethe, so her success could come down to her striking acumen. If one of these girls slows in the latter half of the action, the door swings wide open for the other. Ultimately, Eubanks will outwork Bethe on the feet and potentially find some success with her wrestling- my prediction is Sijara Eubanks to defeat Bethe Correia by decision.

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155lbs- Claudio Puelles (9-2-0) vs Marcos Mariano (6-5-0)

The first fight of the night features the sophomore appearance of Brazil’s Marcos Mariano as he takes on Claudio Puelles in the Lightweight division. Puelles fell via middle-round TKO against Martin Bravo in his debut, before returning to submit Felipe Silva in his next fight. Mariano stepped in to face Lando Vannata in his first Octagon showing- tapping to a Kimura.

Mariano is the taller man by 2 inches, but Puelles is his 10-years younger.

The Brazilian has lost 2 of his last 3 fights and barely sits above .500. The biggest number that stands out on Marcos’ record are the 3 submission losses. He is a striker by trade working, that will focus on remaining at distance. Conversely, Vannata and multiple regional foes have found success forcing him to grapple.

Puelles is coming off a submission win that saw him land a pair of takedowns, but badly lose the striking exchanges. Claudio came out looking for submission early, attacking his opponent’s legs and pulling guard on multiple occasions. He took a lot of damage and was hurt on multiple times while still looking for the takedown.

While Mariano bares a striking resemblance to Anderson Silva, he appears to lack the ground skills of the former Champion. Puelles needs to avoid giving away top position and allowing Mariano to land ground and pound. Conversely, the unorthodox submission attacks of the Peruvian will create a lot of issues for Marcos. The outcome could come down to whether or not Mariano can defend the first sub attack and force Puelles into a defensive shell- my prediction is Claudio Puelles to defeat Marcos Mariano by submission.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 158

265lbs- #15 Augusto Sakai (13-1-1) vs #14 Marcin Tybura (17-5-0)

The last fight of the undercard also features the biggest men on the card as Augusto Sakai battles Poland’s Marcin Tybura in the Heavyweight division. Sakai is riding a 4-fight winning streak with 2 wins in the UFC including a narrow split decision victory over Andrei Arlovski. Tybura is 4-4 in the UFC, falling into a 1-3 slump that includes losses to Fabricio Werdum and Derrick Lewis.

Both fighters are 6’3″, Sakai’s reach is an inch longer. Sakai is the younger man by 6-years and should weight in 10 to 15 pounds heavier.

Sakai’s 2 UFC performances have been drastically different. In his debut, he landed 111 significant strikes prior to scoring the finish. Against Arlovski, he struggled to land with consistency and was outworked by a near 2:1 count. Sakai had some issues with the speed of Arlovski and lacked consistency in his striking once he closed the gap.

10 of his 13 wins have come by knockout, 5 after the opening round.

The Polish fighter offers above-average speed and movement for a Heavyweight which could be his key to overcome Sakai. Despite an impressive 127 striker performance against Werdum, Tybura’s output has rarely eclipsed the 50 strikes range. Against Stefan Struve and Arlovski he has found success with his takedowns, helping to augment his volume.

This will be the 6th consecutive fight in a different country for Tybura.

This bout could be violent and brief or it could turn into a sloppy grind. The speed favours Tybura, but he lacks the consistent striking output to make it count. If he can’t find a couple of takedowns, he will struggle to outpoint Sakai. Augusto is the more durable fighter and as the heavier man, he should find success holding position in the clinch. Sakai will press forward and land the more impactful offense, pulling away from Tybura in the latter stages of the bout- my prediction is August Sakai to defeat Marcin Tybura by decision.

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135lbs- Miles Johns (8-0-0) vs Cole Smith (7-0-0)

British Columbia native Cole “The Cole Train” Smith makes his second UFC appearance when he takes on the debuting Miles “Chapo” Johns in the Bantamweight division. Johns maintained his undefeated record with a decision win over Richie Santiago on the Tuesday Night Contender’s series. Smith debuted with an upset over Canadian veteran Mitch Gagnon to improve to 2-0 in 2019.

At 5’11”, Smith is 4 inches taller than his foe and he will have a 1″ reach advantage. Johns is the younger man by 5-years.

Johns showcased a strong wrestling attacking in his last fight, routinely winning the positional battles and ending on top. He has a pair of submission wins and attempted multiple chokes, but was unable to get the finish. On the feet, he has some power and isn’t afraid to trade.

He appeared to slowdown against Santiago, in the second half of the fight. He does have a solid depth of long fight experience including a 5-round split decision win in his last LFA bout.

Smith did a solid job defending the early TDAs from Gagnon and transitioned to his own successful takedown. On the feet, Smith utilized his improved striking attack including some snappy low kicks and well-timed front kicks to the body.

The Canadian demonstrated his toughness against Gagnon, getting hurt in the 3rd round and then surviving a guillotine attempt to gain the superior position and nearly score his own finish.

Cole has a lot to offer with a capable grappling attack, decent striking, size, and cardio. His cardio could be the key here if he can forces Johns to over-extend himself before the midway point of the fight. Johns’ wrestling and his ability to grind Smith out will be at the center of his attack. Look for Johns to routinely get in on the legs of Cole, leading to multiple takedowns and top control- my prediction is Miles Johns to defeat Cole Smith by decision.

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185lbs- #14 Andrew Sanchez (12-4-0) vs Marvin Vettori (13-4-1)– CANCELLED

Italy’s Marvin Vettori looks for a second consecutive win when he takes on top 15 ranked Andrew “Dirty” Sanchez in the Middleweight division. Sanchez has won back to back bouts to halt a 2-fight losing skid- he is now 4-2 in the UFC. Vettori secured a decision win over Cezar Ferreira following a narrow split decision loss to the now interim-champion Israel Adesanya.

Sanchez is an inch taller, but they will have the same reach. Vettori is the younger man by 5-years. Vettori is stepping in for Branch on with less than 2-months to prep.

This fight could come down to the success rate of Sanchez’s wrestling. Andrew has taken down 4 of his 6 opponents, amounting to 15 total takedowns. Vettori’s first UFC loss came against Antonio Carlos Junior which included 4 completions by the Brazilian.

In his last outing, Vettori shut down all 5 of Cezar Ferreira’s TDAs and landed 2 of his own.

Vettori has put up some solid striking totals and has proven durable throughout his career. His focus here will be to force Sanchez away from his primary method of attack and into a stand-up based fight.

Sanchez’s cardio is a major concern if he is forced to fight at a pace he is not comfortable with. Vettori’s pressure is a key aspect of his attack and he has shown he can keep attacking in the latter stages of a fight. Unless “El Dirte” can land takedowns and hold prolonged top position, he will struggle to match Vettori’s output- even if he doesn’t fade. Vettori will put on a repeat performance from his last fight, pouring on the offense as the American fades- my prediction is Marvin Vettori to defeat Andrew Sanchez by decision.

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135lbs- Brad Katona (9-1-0) vs Hunter Azure (7-0-0)

TUF 27 winner and Canadian Brad “Superman” Katona returns following the first loss of his career to take on Tuesday Night Contenders series graduate Hunter Azure in the Bantamweight division. Kantona started his UFC tenure 2-0 before running into Merab Dvalishvili and dropping a decision. Still undefeated, Azure is an LFA veteran and won his Contenders bout via decision.

Azure is the taller man by 2-inches, but he will have a much larger 5″ reach advantage. He is a year younger than Katona.

The Canadian is a capable striker offering solid volume and variety. Katona has some pop in his hands despite his lack of knockout numbers. Overall he has finished just 3 opponents, including the first 2 of his pro career.

The Canadian’s TDD has been an issue- he gave up 4 takedowns against Matthew Lopez and 5 more in his loss to Dvalishvili.

In his Contenders fight, Azure threw hard low and body kicks and backed them up with some heavy punching flurries. That being said, it was evident that his approach centered around closing the distance and setting up his takedowns.

Azure comes from a strong wrestling background and offers a heavy top game. He didn’t find a lot of early success looking for takedowns in his last fight, but his persistence appeared to wear on his opponent leading to completions later in the fight.

Katona is the more well-rounded fighter with a superior level of experience. For him to be successful here, he will need to overcome his defensive wrestling issues. Azure’s ability to take Katona down and keep him down will negate his shortcomings elsewhere. The Canadian has given up too many takedowns over his last 2 fights to overlook and unless the Octagon jitters get to Hunter, he will replicate Brad’s struggles- my prediction is Hunter Azure to defeat Brad Katona by decision.

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145lbs- Chas Skelly (17-3-0) vs Jordan Griffin (17-6-0)

In the Featherweight division, Chas “The Scrapper” Skelly returns to action to take on “The Native Psycho” Jordan Griffin. Skelly has lost back to back bouts, most recently falling via controversial submission to Bobby Moffett. Griffin’s 4-fight winning streak ended in his promotional debut, falling via decision to Dan Ige.

Both men are 5’11” and share a 72″ reach. Skelly is the older man by 5-years.

Griffin battled through 2 distinct phases in his debut- he was either on his back or attack on the feet. While he has 8 wins by sub, he appears to be vulnerable on the floor as Ige took him down multiple times and he has also been submitted twice.

A former NAIA wrestler, Skelly offers a strong blend of wrestling and submission skills. He has 10 wins by sub, including each of his last 3 wins.

Skelly doesn’t put up huge takedown numbers and his cardio is a concern as he will fade as the fight advances. If forced to compete on his feet, he has some pop in hands but he has also been hurt in multiple fights.

If “The Scrapper” can take Griffing down with regularity or get him down once and lock up a sub, that is his best avenue to victory here. For Jordan, he needs to turn this fight into a brawl. Force Skelly to work hard and keep the pressure on when trading. Skelly’s tendency to fade is a major concern against a fighter that keeps engaging. Chas might find some success early with his grappling, but Griffin will take over on the feet- my prediction is Jordan Griffin to defeat Chas Skelly by TKO

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135lbs- Louis Smolka (15-6-0) vs Ryan MacDonald (10-1-0)

Attempting to gain some traction as a Bantamweight, Louis Smolka takes on promotional debutant Ryan MacDonald. MacDonald lost his debut to Chris Gutierrez- the first of his career. Smolka won 4 straight fights including his re-debut in the UFC- but he fell via first-round submission to Matt Schnell last March.

Smolka is a former Flyweight and could be headed back to 125-pounds if he continues to struggle at Bantamweight. MacDonald is the taller man by 2-inches and he will also have a 3″ reach advantage. Louis is 2-years his elder.

With 7 wins by submission and 2 defeats, Smolka’s career has largely been determined on the mat. In most scenarios, if he wins the takedowns battle he wins the fight and if not, he comes up short.

Smolka can do work on the feet but it is a secondary aspect of his attack. Louis could be classified as a “suicide grappler”- a fighter that is willing to routinely accept a bad position and then try to work his way out of it.

Coming in on short notice, MacDonald struggled to find much success, landing just 15-significant strikes. He routinely allowed his opponent to lead the exchanges while looking for openings that never seemed to come.

MacDonald has 6 finishes in 10 wins, but only 1 in the first frame- his pro debut.

Smolka’s Fight IQ has been a point of concern at times, costing him winnable fights. For MacDonald, his regional level of competition was far from stellar and could be the reason for his underwhelming debut. Smolka will want this fight on the floor where he has a sizeable advantage. If he makes a mistake, Ryan could capitalize. Even if contested on the feet, MacDonald’s lack of activity will allow Louis to outwork. Smolka will draw him into a grappling exchange and eventually catch him in a transition- my prediction is Louis Smolka to defeat Ryan MacDonald by submission.

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145lbs- Kyle Prepolec (12-6-1) vs Austin Hubbard (10-3-0)

The opening contest of the card features a border clash as Canada’s Kyle Prepolec meets American Austin Hubbard in the Featherweight division. Prepolec took his debut on short notice and dropped a decision at Welterweight to Nordine Taleb. Hubbard also took a short notice debut and also went the distance unsuccessfully against Davi Ramos.

Both men are 5’10” and Hubbard will have a 1″ reach advantage. The American is the younger man by 2-years.

Despite the loss, Hubbard put up an admirable fight against an opponent that had previously finished all of his UFC wins. He landed some decent striking combinations, but simply couldn’t stay vertical enough to make it count.

Hubbard finished the first 2 fights of his pro career inside the opening round, but none since including a solid 3-1 record in 5 round fights.

Prepolec has some power and landed some decent strikes against the much larger and longer Taleb. He has knocked out 3 of his last 4 opponents. The Canadian also has some long fight experience with 7 of his last 9 fights going to the 3rd round or beyond.

While Taleb didn’t test his defensive wrestling, Prepolec has had some issues with his TDD on the regional scene. He has been submitted twice and carries a 2-4 record in decisions.

Fighting with a full camp to prep and at a more appropriate weight class, both fighters should produce better performances. Hubbard had the stronger debut performance and overall he owns a superior strength of schedule. While this fight should be primarily contested on the feet, the wrestling of Hubbard could a factor in the end. Look for both men to have their moments, with Hubbard edging Prepolec out on the feet and scoring points with timely takedowns- my prediction is Austin Hubbard to defeat Kyle Prepolec by decision.

UFC 244

125lbs- #6 Andrea Lee (10-2-0) vs #5 Joanne Calderwood (13-3-0)

The final fight of the undercard offers potential title contention implications as rising contender Andrea “KGB” Lee takes on Scotland’s Joanne Calderwood in the Women’s Flyweight division. Lee is undefeated in the UFC at 3-0 including wins over Ashlee Evans-Smith and Montana De La Rosa- she has won 7 fights in a row. Calderwood is coming off a loss to Katlyn Chookagian, her first defeat in the UFC as a Flyweight- she is 3-1 at 125-pounds.

Both fighters are 5’6″, but Lee will have a 4″ reach advantage. She is also the younger fighter by 4-years.

Lee offers a strong striking attack that saw her batter De La Rosa and put up a UFC-personal best 111 significant strikes against Evans-Smith. She works well from range with crisp boxing and a solid kicking attack. Her forward pressure and hand positioning are key to her success- forcing her foe to fight from a defensive position.

One area of concern has been her TDD. While Lee has routinely shown the ability to get back to her feet- she has given up 8 takedowns over 3 Octagon appearances.

JoJo is coming off a frustrating defeat that saw her outland her foe 112 to 82 in conjunction with a 3-0 edge in takedowns- yet she lost a decision. At times, Calderwood seemed unwilling to commit to her techniques and often didn’t land with as much impact. She had had issues with holding back and allowing her foe to strike first.

When she is on, Calderwood can be a lethal striker. She also has shown a willingness to work in takedowns; she has landed 9 takedowns over 5 UFC wins compared to just 3 in her 4 losses.

Lee’s reach is a key factor here. Calderwood likes to attack with low kicks, but Lee will find success countering with her hand strikes. As a result, Lee’s offense should weigh heavier with the judges. Calderwood is strong in the clinch, but so is Lee and “KGB” is an excellent scrambler which will negate Joanne’s TDAs. This find stands to be close, but in the end Lee will simply do more- my prediction is Andrea Lee to defeat Joanne Calderwood by decision.

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145lbs- Zubaira Tukhugov (18-4-0) vs Lerone Murphy (5-0-0)

Undefeated British Featherweight Lerone “The Miracle” Murphy draws a tough opponent in Khabib teammate Zubaira Tukhugov. Tukhugov is coming off a split decision loss to Rentao Moicano- ending his 9-fight winning streak. Murphy turned pro in 2016, went 3-0 in 2017 and fought just once in 2018- winning by decision.

Murphy is an inch taller and he will have a 5″ reach advantage. They are roughly the same age.

It has been nearly 40-months since Zubaira last fought in the UFC. His role in the UFC 229 brawl and previous USADA suspension are responsible for his time away.

The Brit has finished a trio of opponents by first-round knockout, sandwiched between his 2 decision wins. He has recently faced a pair of opponents with respectable records, but also fought a 7-40 foe.

He has decent striking skills with good power, but the low level of competition has most likely played a significant role in his success.

Tukhugov is a capable fighter both on the mat and the feet, but he fails to push the pace at convincing rate. His last 2 bouts both ended via split decision with the Russian landing a combined 50 strikes to his opponents’ 64.

He will work in takedowns when needed, scoring completions in 3 of his 4 UFC fights.

This is a difficult fight to predict. Murphy is coming in on short notice and taking a massive step up in competition. Tukhugov has been out of action for a long time, but he is fighting at home. Murphy appears to be the superior athlete and should have a speed advantage. Tukhugov needs to show an improved volume attack and mix in his takedowns to help score points. Ultimately, the layoff and recent struggles of Tukhugov are hard to overlook against the length, speed, and capable striking attack of Murphy- despite the experience factor my prediction is Lerone Murphy to defeat Zubaira Tukhugov by decision.

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135lbs- Liana Jojua (7-2-0) vs Sarah Moras (5-5-0)

In the Women’s Bantamweight division, Canada’s Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras battles the debuting Liana Jojua of Georgia. Moras’ record currently sits at .500 including a 2-4 record in the UFC- she has lost 3 straight. Jojua has won 5-straight after suffering through a brief 2 fight losing skid that dropped her early record to 2-2.

Moras is 3-inches taller than Liana and she will have a 5″ reach advantage. Jojua is the younger fighter by 7-years.

Moras is a capable grappler with good submission skills. She finished Ashlee Evans-Smith via sub and has completed at least 1 takedown in each of her last 3 fights and 4 of 6 overall.

Unfortunately, Sarah’s Cardio is abysmal and usually sees her start to fade before the conclusion of the opening frame. She is just 1-5 over her last 6 fights to leave the first frame.

The UFC newcomer hasn’t seen action in 19-months which is a concern for a young and debuting fighter. Conversely, the time away could also give her the required time to make further additions to her overall game.

Liana is a strong grappler, finishing 5 of her 7 wins by submission- 4 by armbar. She is coming off a 5-round decision win to capture the Fight Nights Global title.

In Jojua’s last fight she spent some time on her back, but showcased some impressive submission defense. She will need to be on point to avoid Moras’ grappling attack. Sarah has a tendency to sacrifice position for submission which can be costly. Additionally, she lacks the wrestling to routinely get on top and her striking is sub-par. Jojua’s standup is still a work in progress, but this fight will most likely be contested on the floor. Jojua will survive the early exchanges and capitalize on a fading foe- my prediction is Liana Jojua to defeat Sarah Moras by submission.

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155lbs- Teemu Packalen (8-2-0) vs Ottman Azaitar (11-0-0)

The opening televised prelim features the debut of Ottman “Bulldozer” Azaitair taking in the returning Teemu Packalen in the Lightweight division. Packalen came to the UFC undefeated, but he has lost 2 of his 3 including a brutal knockout loss to Marc Diakiese in his last fight. Azaitar is undefeated, finishing each of his last 3 opponents by some form of knockout.

Packalen is a tall Lightweight at 6’1″, he is 5-inches taller than Azaitar to go along with a 4″reach advantage. Ottman is the younger man by 3-years.

Both fighters are returning to action after a prolonged break; Azaitar hasn’t fought in just under 13-months, but Packalen has been shelved for nearly 30-months. Further to that, Packalen was out almost a year prior to his last fight and he has had just 54-seconds of cage time over his last 2 fights.

Azaitar has finished 10 of his 11 opponents- 7 by knockout with 8 finishes in the first frame. His last 3 opponents are a combined 38-29. As his nickname indicates, he is at his best bulldozing forward and throwing heavy flurries of power punches.

“Pacu” has an opportunistic submission game, showcasing it in his only UFC win. He dropped his foe during an initial exchange before sinking in a rear-naked choke. He has utilized a variety of different holds to secure victories, ending 6 of his 8 wins in the first frame.

Ottman has had issues with fighters looking to take him down, but he has a solid wrestling attack and is decent at getting back to his feet. If he makes a positional mistake, Packalen can capitalize and finish the fight. The pressure of Azaitar should create a lot of problems for a fighter that has been out of action for a long time. With Azaitar pressing forward and throwing power, he should find success on the feet until he puts Teemu down- my prediction is Ottman Azaitar to defeat Teemu Packalen by knockout.

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170lbs- Belal Muhammad (14-3-0) vs Takashi Sato (14-2-0)

In the final fight of the Early prelims, Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad takes on Japanese knockout artist Takashi Sato in the Welterweight division. Muhammad has won 5 of his last 6 fights including a unanimous decision win over Curtis Millender and a decision victory over Chance Rencountre. Sato has won back to back fights including a successful debut victory over Ben Saunders by TKO.

Muhammad is an inch taller, but Sato will have a 1″ reach advantage. The Japanese fighter is the younger man by 2-years.

Carrying an 11-2 record in decisions, including 5 wins in the UFC, Muhammad is an active striker offering a solid volume attack. In addition to his vertical output, Belal’s takedown game is solid.

He is 6-1 when completing at least 1 takedown, including 6 straight wins after dropping his debut.

Sato is coming off a fight where he was outlanded almost 2-1 over roughly 6 minutes by Saunders, before dropping him with a well-timed straight left.

He has good power, but doesn’t throw with enough volume which is a major concern at this level. He was also clipped and stumbled by Saunders and in his final pre-UFC fight. He has been knocked out just once.

Sato needs a knockout or to hurt Belal on multiple occasions in order to win this fight. He doesn’t offer enough volume to overcome the output of Muhammad over the course of a full 15-minutes. Muhammad did struggle with the power-punching of Geoff Neal and was knocked out by Vicente Luque but his volume should give him the edge here. Look for Muhammad to mix in a few takedowns to create further issues for Takashi, my prediction is Belal Muhammad to defeat Takashi Sato by decision.

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170lbs- Nordine Taleb (14-6-0) vs Muslim Salikhov (14-2-0)

With both fighters coming off of victories, Canada’s Nordine “The Machine” Taleb takes on Muslim Salikhov in the Welterweight division. Taleb scored a decision win over Kyle Prepolec to snap a 2-fight losing streak. Salikhov started his UFC run with a loss to Alex Garcia but rebounded wit a knockout over Ricky Rainey.

Nordine will stand 2-inches taller than his foe to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Salikhov is the younger man by 3-years, but he hasn’t fought in 17-months.

It is worth noting that Taleb trains out of Tri-Star, alongside Alex Garcia who submitted Muslim in his promotional debut.

The Russian draws on his Kung Fu background, throwing a methodically paced striking attack with a high percentage of spinning offense. By contrast, Taleb throws well over 1.5 more significant strikes per round.

Salikhov has 12 wins by knockout compared to just a single decision win.

Taleb’s early UFC run was highlighted by a wrestling heavy attack, but in recent fights, he has focussed more on his striking. He has a pair of knockouts inside the Octagon, but Taleb has also recently suffered the 2nd knockout loss of his career.

Against Rainey, Salikhov struggled with the reach of the longer fighter until he landed a fight-ending counter. Against Garcia, he was snuffed out by a superior grappler. Taleb has the skills to meld these 2 scenarios together. If he can avoid the power of the Russian, Nordine will find success throwing more volume before closing to grind the smaller man along the cage and eventually taking him down. Muslim has been out of the first round just 3-times, that shows up here- my prediction is Nordine Taleb to defeat Muslim Salikhov by decision.

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185lbs- Omari Akhmedov (18-4-1) vs Zak Cummings (23-6-0)

In the Middleweight division, Russia’s Omari “Wolverine” Akhmedov meets fellow former Welterweight Zak Cummings. Akhmedov is undefeated in his last 4 fights, including wins over Tim Boetsch and Kyle Noke. Cummings has won 4 of his last 5 outings, most recently defeating Trevin Giles by submission.

Both fighters are 6’0″ tall, but Cummings will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Omari is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Each man is capable of winning this fight on the ground or on the feet. Cummings offers a solid submission game while Omari is more apt to look to do damage with heavy GNP while maintaining top position.

On the feet, Akhmedov has good power in his hands and mixes in heavy legs kicks. The American’s approach will center more on counter striking, landing punches and sliding out of danger.

Akhmedov’s cardio has been an issue in previous fights as he has a tendency to slow down. That being said, the move to Middleweight appears to have helped him with this issue.

Cummings needs to make Akhmedov work hard early to compromise his cardio and slow him down. Conversely, Cummings’ willingness to let his opponent lead the exchanges won’t fair well against the heavier striker. Zak isn’t a big volume striker which will make it difficult for him to overcome Akhmedov’s power. Omari will find success over the first 2 rounds with heavy leg kicks and hooks before Cummings makes a late rally- my prediction is Omari Akhmedov to defeat Zak Cummings by decision.

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155lbs- Don Madge (8-3-1) vs Fares Ziam (10-2-0)

After a successful debut, Don Madge returns to the Octagon to welcome the debuting Fares Ziam to the UFC’s Lightweight division. Madge took out fellow UFC debutant Te Edwards via round 2 head kick KO to extend his current winning streak to 5 straight. France’s Ziam has won 5 in a row after a mild 1-2 slump back in 2016.

Ziam is the taller man by an inch to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by 7-years- he is taking this fight on roughly 2-weeks notice.

Fares hails from France, where MMA was just recently legalized. His last 3 opponents are a combined 32-15 and he has stopped 9 of his 10 pro wins- 5 by knockout.

The South Africa Madge comes from a kickboxing background and showcased those skills with a head kick finish in his debut. He also locked up a nasty armbar that nearly won him the fight in the first frame. He has a trio of submission wins and both of Ziam’s losses have come by tap out.

Despite both his losses coming on the mat, Ziam is more than willing to look for takedowns and could opt to try and take Madge to the mat- especially if the striking exchanges don’t go his way.

Madge put together an impressive performance but too long away prevented him from building on a strong start. While Ziam has shown signs of being a capable prospect, he is still relatively green, debuting, and doing it all on short notice. Look for Madge’s aggression and more impactful striking be the difference in this fight. Even if Fares takes him down, Madge has shown he can hold his own against competent wrestlers- my prediction is Don Madge to defeat Fares Ziam by TKO.

UFN 157

170lbs- Kenan Song (14-4-0) vs Derrick Krantz (23-11-0)

In the main event of the undercard, China’s Kenan Song attempts to rebound from his first UFC loss when he tangles with promotional sophomore Derrick Krantz. Krantz lost via TKO to Vicente Luque to end a 3-fight winning streak. Song defeated Bobby Nash and Hector Aldana before losing to Alex Morono.

Song is the taller fighter by 2-inches, but he will give up an inch of reach. Krantz is 2-years older.

Krantz threw caution to the wind against Luque, finding early success with his hands and working towards a back mount. Eventually, the fight turned against him and he suffered the 3rd knockout loss of his career. After back to back knockout finishes, Kenan struggled with the activity of Morono and lost on the cards.

He is 1-3 in decisions compared to 12 finishes split evenly between knockouts and submissions. Similarly, Krantz is 2-3 on the scorecards.

Krantz is a veteran fighter with a wealth of experience and he is finally getting a legit opportunity at the top level of MMA. Traveling to China and facing a local is a difficult scenario, especially when you consider a high percentage of undercard main events go to a decision. Song appears to be the more durable fighter and Krantz’s last 2 decisions have been splits, suggesting he could need a finish here. Look for Song to offer more volume while defending Krantz’s attempts to take him down- my prediction is Kenan Song to defeat Derrick Krantz by decision.

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185lbs- Anthony Hernandez (7-1-0) vs Jun Yong Park (9-3-0)

In the Middleweight division, Anthony Hernandez makes his sophomore appearance against promotional newcomer Jun Yong Park. Park has won 6 consecutive fights including a submission win over PFL standout Ray Coopper III. Hernandez made his debut against Markus Perez, falling via 2nd round submission- the first defeat of his career.

Hernandez is the taller fighter by 2-inches and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by…2-years.

One of the concerns with Hernandez heading into his debut was his lack of long fight experience. He has finished all of his wins in round 1 with the exception of a 5-round decision win. Park has fought beyond the first frame in 8 of 12 pro bouts.

Hernandez is aggressive, but it opened him up to some big shots against Perez and it will against Park as well. Park has excellent boxing, especially in close proximity, and he can counter strike effectively. Hernandez may want to try and take Jun to the mat, but the Korean has shown himself capable of getting up once taken down. The lack of long fight experience and the travel factor for Hernandez works against him as he will fade in a slugfest that goes beyond frame 1- my prediction is Jun Yong Park to defeat Anthony Hernandez by TKO.

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135lbs- Andre Soukhamthath (13-7-0) vs Sumudaerji (9-3-0)

Looking to rebound from a difficult debut, Sumudaerji makes his second UFC appearance when he battles 6-fight UFC veteran Andre Soukhamthath in the Bantamweight division. Sumudaerji debuted against Louis Smolka back in late 2018 and succumbed to a middle-round submission loss- his second straight defeat. Soukhamthath is 2-4 in the promotion, most recently falling to Montel Jackson.

Soukhamthath is an inch taller, but he will be giving up 2 -inches of reach. Sumudaerji is the younger fighter by 8-years.

Sumudaerji is a capable striker, but struggled tremendously with the grappling attack of Smolka. He has been submitted in all 3 of his defeats. Soukhamthath submission game has only produced 2 wins, but he has showcased a willingness to secure takedowns and utilize a clinch heavy attack.

Soukhamthath has completed 8 takedowns over his last 3 fights and would be wise to continue to increase those numbers here. Sumudaerji offers a pretty solid striking attack, but Soukhamthath is more than capable of holding his own on the feet and has fight stopping power himself. Look for the veteran to utilize a strength advantage to ground Sumudaerji, eventually leading to a superior position from where he can go to work- my prediction is Andre Soukhamthath to defeat Sumudaerji by TKO.

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205lbs- Khadis Ibragimov (8-0-0) vs Da Un Jung (10-2-0)

A pair of debuting Light Heavyweights meet as South Korea’s Da Un Jung battles Russian-born Khadis Ibragimov. Jung got the call to the UFC on the strength of a 9 fight winning streak, helping him to rebound from a 1-2 start to his pro career. Still undefeated, Ibragimov went 4-0 under the M-1 banner leading up to his first Octagon walk.

At 6’4″, Jung is the taller man by 2-inches. The Russian is 2-years younger.

By comparison, Jung’s last 3 opponents currently carry a combined record of 14-12 while Ibragimov’s most recent 3 wins came against foes’ with a combined record of 27-11.

Jung has recorded 8 wins by knockout and 9 finishes overall- just 4 in the first frame. Ibragimov offers a more diversified record with no one dominant win total.

Ibragimov has a sizable advantage in experience and he comes from a strong Sambo background. His throws from the clinch and top control will be a lot for Jung to overcome. While Jung has demonstrated serviceable takedown defense, he has yet to face anyone of this caliber. Even if Jung can stay vertical, his striking volume leaves a lot to be desired. The Russian will find success closing the gap to set up his clinch offense and eventually take control on the mat- my prediction is Khadis Ibragimov to defeat Da Un Jung by TKO.

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155lbs- Damir Ismagulov (18-2-0) vs Thiago Moises (12-3-0)

One of the few prelims featuring 2 multi-fight UFC competitors, Damir Ismagulov takes on Brazilian Thiago Moises in the Lightweight division. Ismagulov is 2-0 in the promotion with wins over Alex Gorgees and Joel Alvarez. Moises dropped a decision debut to formerly ranked Lightweight Beneil Darisuh, but rebounded with a decision win over Kurt Holobaugh.

Both men stand 5’9″ and share a 70″ reach. The Brazilian is the younger man by 4-years.

Moises got nullified in his debut by a grappling heavy offense from Dariush but was far more offensive both standing and on the mat in his next appearance. In a similar fashion, Ismagulov has shown 2 different looks in the Octagon- relying heavily on his takedowns in his debut, before switching to a more striking based offense in his next fight.

The Russian is the more consistent fighter; offering a grinding top position attack and/or a steady flow of striking centric offense. Moises is capable of scoring with high impact offense, but he has consistently struggled when faced with pressure. Ismagulov should find success backing his foe up and controlling the majority of the action wherever it goes- my prediction is Damir Ismagulov to defeat Thiago Moises by decision.

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135lbs- Karolline Rosa Cavedo (11-3-0) vs Lara Fritzen Procopio (6-0-0)

Far from home, 2 Brazilian Bantamweights meet as Karolline Rosa Cavedo and Lara Fritzen Procopio make their respective UFC debuts. Procopio is undefeated, turning pro back in 2015- she enters this bout almost a year removed from her last fight. Cavedo has won back to back bouts and is 6-2 over her last 8 fights including a loss to former UFC fighter Larissa Pacheco.

Karolline is the older fighter by a year and will stand 2-inch taller than his foe.

As is always the case with debut fighters, it is important to evaluate their previous level of competition. Procopio’s last 3 opponents are a combined 27-18 while Cavedo’s last trio of wins have come over foes currently post a combined 11-6 record.

Procopio’s offense seems heavily reliant on her grappling skills. Conversely, Cavedo has shown she can find success both on her feet and on the mat. Cavedo’s most recent defeat came against future UFC debutant Melissa Gatto, with Gatto catching her with a Kimura- she will need to be careful on the mat against Lara. If Rosa can keep this fight standing, she could work her way to a decision, but instead, look for Procopio to find repeated success taking her down until she finds the finish- my prediction is Lara Fritzen Procopio to defeat Karolline Rosa Cavedo by submission.

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135lbs- Danaa Batgerel (6-1-0) vs Heili Alateng (12-7-1)

In the first fight of the night, Mongolia’s Danaa Batgerel battles Chinese-born Heili Alateng in the Bantamweight division. Batgerel has won back to back bouts since his first career defeat- he also holds a 2013 victory over main carder Kai Kara-France. Alateng has won a pair of bouts since an 0-1-1 skid that ended his 6-fight winning streak.

It is interesting to note that Alateng is listed as a Flyweight weight while Batgerel has fought as high as 145-pounds. Batgerel is the taller man by 2-inches to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Alateng is the younger man by 2-years.

Neither man has seen action in over year and their recent quality of opposition leaves a lot to be desired. While Batgerel has the edge in total fighter experience, he has also been finished in 4 of his 7 defeats- 3 times by knockout.

This fight should be contested primarily on the feet. Alateng appears to have a slight technical edge, but he relies too much on his counter striking skills. By contrast, Batgerel is far more aggressive walking forward with heavy-handed barrages and should be the more active striker. Of the two, the Mongolian is the more likely to find an edge on the mat. The prolong layoffs, low level of opposition, and debut factors make this fight difficult to call, but my prediction is Danaa Batgerel to defeat Heili Alateng by TKO.

UFC 241

155lbs- Devonte Smith (10-1-0) vs Khama Worthy (14-6-0)

The final fight of the undercard has been ravaged by injury- Devonte “King Kage” Smith will now face the debuting Khama Worthy after John Makdessi and Clay Collard both pulled out of the bout. Smith is 2-0 in the UFC with a pair of first-round knockouts of Julian Erosa and Dong Hyun Ma. Worthy has won 5 straight fights since a 2017 knockout loss suffered to current UFC competitor Kyle Nelson.

Worthy will have less than a week to prepare for the fight. He is the taller man by 2-inches, but he will give up 2-inches of reach. Smith is the younger fighter by 7-years.

Smith showcased impressive striking technique and blistering power, putting down Erosa. He was tested a little more against Ma, but utilized hard low kicks and excellent footwork prior to getting the finish.

His 1-2 combination is simple but incredibly dangerous. The speed at which he deploys his offense is the ultimate factor in his success.

Khama has some power in his hands with 8 wins by knockout, but the 5 knockout losses is far more significant considering Smith’s recent track record.

He looked a little stiff in some dated footage and got brutally KOed by Matt Bessette. His defense is concerning which isn’t surprising considering his knockout numbers.

Worthy stepped in to keep Smith on the card. Stylistically, this is a terrible fight for him. Smith appears to have the advantage in almost all categories; especially technique, speed, and power. That should be enough to give him the required edge to earn a victory. Worthy will struggle to settle in as Smith works in and out, eventually landing with power for the finish- my prediction is Devonte Smith to defeat Khama Worthy by knockout.

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135lbs- #3 Raphael Assuncao (27-6-0) vs #9 Cory Sandhagen (10-1-0)

A battle of top-ranked Bantamweights features Brazilian Raphael Assuncao taking on surging contender Cory Sandhagen. Sandhagen has won 6 straight, 4 in the UFC, including a split decision win over John Lineker in his last fight. Assuncao is coming off a submission loss to Marlon Moraes, snapping his 4-fight winning streak.

Sandhagen is a full 6-inches taller than Assuncao and he will have a 4″ reach advantage. The American is the younger man by 10-years.

The Brazilian fighter has been near the top of the division for a number of years, but a prolonged break and a couple of untimely high-profile losses will most likely keep him from a title fight.

Conversely, Sandhagen is coming off the highest-profile win of his career and could take another massive step forward with a win over Assuncao.

A BJJ Black belt, Assuncao boasts rock-solid TDD and will go offensive with his own takedowns when needed. Sandhagen completed a pair of takedowns against Lineker and has a strong ground and pound game once in top position.

On the feet, Sanhagen stays active. He throws a variety of offensive techniques and while he tends to hang his hands, it allows him to throw punches from awkward angles.

Raphael is more of a counter puncher. He will sit back and look to catch his opponents as they come in. When he does initiate exchanges he will often do so with hard low kicks. At times, his willingness to allow his opponents to lead the exchanges makes for very close fights on the feet.

If Sandhagen is too reckless, Assuncao has the skills to capitalize and score a decision win or snatch a submission. Conversely, the combination of length and pressure brought by Cory presents a considerable problem for the counter-heavy Brazilian. The jab of Sandhagen will allow him to touch Assuncao at a range where Raphel can’t reach him and it will draw out Assuncao’s counters in the process. Cory will outwork the Brazilian from start to finish, blitzing him more and more as he slow- my prediction is Cory Sandhagen to defeat Raphael Assuncao by TKO.

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155lbs- Christos Giagos (10-1-1) vs Drakkar Klose (16-7-0)

In the Lightweight division, “The Spartan” Christos Giagos meets 5-fight UFC veteran Drakkar Klose. Klose is 4-1 in the UFC, earning back to back wins over Lando Vannata and Bobby Green. Giagos went 1-3 during his first UFC run and after another defeat in his return, he has since secure wins over Mizuto Hirota and Damir Hadzovic.

Giagos is an inch taller to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. Christos is the younger man by 2-years.

Over his last 2 fight, Giagos has found a lot of success with his wrestling. He has completed 12 takedowns in 3 wins compared to giving up 7 TDs over 3 defeats- 2 ending via submission loss.

Giagos’ success hinges on his ability to find success on the floor.

Klose comes from a wrestling background has shown he can wrestle when needed. Defensively, he has also been taken down, but overall he has stopped 70% of his opponents’ attempts.

On the feet, both men can crack- but neither has shown stopping power in the UFC. Klose’s volume is far from overwhelming and he is coming off a fight where he was on the wrong end of the striking totals, but edge out a decision.

Klose can be an emotional fighter and has shown visible frustration when his opponent has been unwilling to engage him on the feet.

Klose has solid TDD and that should serve to remove a key element of Giagos’s success. If Klose can add in his own takedown offense, that would give him a further edge. Giagos has a tendency to fade in rounds and if he spends too much unsuccessful energy looking for takedowns early that could speed up his slow down. Klose needs to be mindful of his offensive output and not get outworked. He will offer some decent kicks and a sharp jab to headline the vertical exchanges as the busier and more impactful striker- my prediction is Drakkar Klose to defeat Christos Giagos by decision.

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135lbs- Manny Bermudez (14-0-0) vs Casey Kenney (8-1-1)

Undefeated submission ace Manny “Bermudez Triangle” Bermudez battles promotional sophomore Casey Kenney in the Bantamweight division. Bermudez is an impressive 3-0 in the UFC with all 3 wins coming by submission- most recently choking out Benito Lopez. Kenney debuted with a narrow upset win over Ray Borg to extend his current winning streak to 5 in a row.

Manny is the taller man by 3-inches to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. He is also 3 years younger than Kenney.

The approach of Bermudez has been fairly straight forward and effective. Close the distance, initiate a grappling exchange, and start looking for submissions until he gets the finish.

He has picked up a pair of first-round wins in the UFC, but was pushed into the middle frame in his debut before getting the win.

Kenney survived on the mat against a talented grappler in Borg, but he did relinquish 7 takedowns in the process. He stuffed just 3 of Ray’s TDAs.

Considering the danger that Bermudez present on the mat, Kenney needs to keep this fight standing. He is a decent striker, but as the shorter man with a reach disadvantage, he will be forced to continually push forward into the grasp of his foe.

Kenney struggled with the grappling pressure of Borg and is now facing a bigger man with a more opportunistic submission game. Bermudez is surprisingly strong and his striking is improving which helps him to close the gap. Once he gets his hands on Kenny, Manny should find success dragging him to the floor. If Casey can survive the first 7-8 minutes he could turn the action in his favour, but my prediction is Manny Bermudez to defeat Casey Kenney by submission.

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115lbs- Hannah Cifers (9-3-0) vs Jodie Esquibel (6-5-0)

In the headlining fight of the early prelims, Hannah “Shockwave” Cifers looks for her 2nd UFC victory when she battles New Mexico’s Jodie Esquibel in the Strawweight division. Cifers fell to Maycee Barber in her debut, but rallied for a split decision win over Polyana Viana in her next outing. Esquibel is winless in 3 UFC bouts, dropping a decision to Angela King in her last battle.

Both girls stand an equal height at 5’1″, but Jodie will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Cifers is the younger fighter by 6-years.

The common theme during Esquibel’s UFC struggles has been her poor striking defense and inability to match her opponents’ vertical output. She has given up 127, 128, and 117 significant strikes in each of her 3 UFC bouts.

Cypher’s found success against Viana by landing some big strikes, including a heavy right-hand that dropped the Brazilian. She will counter low kicks with a hard right hook and does a decent job of punching to the body as well.

Neither girl has found much success taking their opponents to the floor, but Cifers did score with GNP from top position after Viana pulled guard.

Esquibel went 0 for 3 on takedowns versus Hill.

Both girls will benefit from fighting an equally sized opponent. Cifers appears to have the edge in power and the defensive liabilities of Jodie suggests that Hannah will land with a greater frequency. Esquibel gives up too much offense and her striking accuracy percentage is just too low to overlook. Cifers will land the more impactful offense and might even find some success on the mat- my prediction is Hannah Cifers to defeat Jodie Esquibel by decision.

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135lbs- Kyung Ho Kang (15-8-0) vs Brandon Davis (10-6-0)

In the Bantamweight division, South Korea’s “Mr. Perfect” Kyung Ho Kang takes on Brandon “Killer B” Davis. Davis made the move to Bantamweight in his last fight, scoring his second UFC win- a middle-round submission of Randy Costa. Kang improved to 4-1 over his last 5 Octagon walks by tapping out Teruto Ishihara in the first frame.

As previously mentioned, Davis cut down to 135-pounds in his last fight. He is an inch taller than Kang, but will give up an inch of reach. “Killer B” is the younger man by 3-years.

Kang builds his attack around his Judo skills. He has completed takedowns in all but 1 of his UFC fights. He appears to have moved away from a heavy takedown assault, completing 10 over his first 3 fights compared to just 3 over his last 4 outings.

The American has struggled with takedown oriented opponents- giving up 20 takedowns over his first 4 fights.

Davis rallied from taking a couple of early big shots to overcome a relatively green Costa. He likes to utilize forward pressure and draw his opponent into a brawl. Defensively, Brandon is willing to take a punch and has been outlanded in each of his last 3 fights.

Against Costa, Davis was able to take his best shots and then take over once his foe started to fade.

Kang is a capable striker despite having just 2 knockout wins. Against Ishihara, he got drawn into a wild brawl where both men were hurt. Eventually, “Mr. Perfect” resorted to his grappling skills for his 11th submission win.

Davis needs to make this fight ugly and pull Kang away from his grappling base. Brandon has decent pop and could either put Kang out or do enough damage early to wear him down leading to a decision win. While Kang will brawl, he can transition to a takedown with relative ease and that is were Davis has struggled. Kang and Davis will trade early, before Kyung opts to take it to the floor where he will either frustrate Davis continued top control or work towards a finish- my prediction is Kyung Ho Kang to defeat Brandon Davis by submission.

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125lbs- Sabina Mazo (6-1-0) vs Shana Dobson (3-2-0)

The first fight of the night goes down in the Flyweight division as Sabina “The Colombian Queen” Mazo makes her sophomore appearance when she battles Shana “Danger” Dobson. Mazo dropped a decision to Maryna Moroz in her debut, the first pro loss of her career. Dobson won her UFC debut, but came up short against Lauren Mueller in her next fight.

Mazo is an inch taller to go along with an inch reach advantage. She is 8-years younger than Shana.

“The Colombian Queen” comes from a kickboxing background and has authored multiple head kick knockouts- especially from the right side. Against Moroz, she struggled to find success early, but started to land with more regularity in the latter stages of the fight.

Dobson has not seen UFC action in roughly 16-months. In her debut, she showcased a lot of power in her strikes- both punches and kicks. She works well behind a lead left jab and offers good footwork to set up her offense.

Mazo struggled with the early takedowns of Moroz which appeared to take her off her game. She found more defensive success as the fight went. She is a self-admitted slow starter.

The American did attempt a couple of takedowns in her last fight and put up some good volume despite falling short on the scorecards.

Mazo should be more comfortable with her debut behind. The layoff is a concern for Dobson, but it also provides her with an opportunity to work on her overall game. Mazo’s kick heavy offense is going to struggle against the pressure Dobson brings. Look for Shana to utilize her jab, push forward and keep the pressure on her foe. Dobson has power in her hands, throws hard kicks, and would be wise to mix in takedowns/ clinch offense. Mazo’s slow start will get the better of her again- my prediction is Shana Dobson to defeat Sabina Mazo by decision.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 156

265lbs- Ciryl Gane (3-0-0) vs Raphael Pessoa (9-0-0)

The final fight of the undercard will feature a pair of debuting Heavyweights as Ciryle Gane of France takes on Raphael Pessoa of Brazil. Pessoa made a brief stop in LFA to earn his 9th pro win- he fought just once in 2018 after a stunning 7 bouts in 2017. Gane turned pro just over a year ago, competing 3-times under the TKO banner in that span.

At 6’4″, Gane is an inch taller and will have a 3-inch reach advantage. He is the younger man by a year. Pessoa will most likely weigh-in 15 pounds heavier.

Pessoa has finish 7 of his 9 wins- 6 by knockout. He has recorded 6 first-round finishes. Gane has stopped all 3 of his opponents- 2 by knockout, 1 by submission and he has never fought passed round 2.

Despite Gane’s lacks of MMA cage time, he is a proven Muay Thai champion with a lot of combat experience.

He is an incredibly sharp strike, utilizing a variety of tools, and he can cover distance with impressive speed. There is concern regarding his ability to maintain his output as he does move a lot and will slow down- but he hits hard and can get his foe out of a fight quickly.

Pessoa has stopping power as well and hits hard, but he is far more loose with his techniques and willing to brawl. Unfortunately, he has faced a number of extremely low-level opponents with winless records.

If the Brazilian could find an edge in this fight it would be on the mat. Unfortunately, that appears to take him away from his comfort zone as the majority of his success has been the result of his striking. Gane is the far more refined striker and his speed is an element that is unaccustomed at Heavyweight. Unless Pessoa can time him coming and counter or survive the early stages of the fight and see if Ciryl slows, his path to victory is a difficult one- my prediction is Ciryl Gane to defeat Raphael Pessoa by TKO.

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115lbs- #8 Tecia Torres (10-4-0) vs Marina Rodriguez (11-0-1)

Arguably the most recognizable name on the undercard, “The Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres takes on Brazil’s Marina Rodriguez in the Women’s Strawweight division. Torres has lost 3 consecutive fights against the elite of the division- champions Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Jessica Andrade plus the next title challenger Weili Zhang. Rodriguez came into the promotion with a draw against Randa Markos followed by a decision win over Jessica Aguilar.

Rodriguez is the taller girl by 5 inches to go along with a 5″ reach advantage. Torres is 2-years younger.

The only other loss on Tecia’s record was to the only other girl to wear the belt-Rose Namajunas. She has been a steady decision fight, outworking her opponent with a steady stream of striking and the periodic takedown.

Rodriguez survived a tough first round against Markos on the mat, but found her footing in round 2. She is primarily a striker with a base in Muay Thai and kickboxing. She landed an impressive 118 strikes against Aguilar.

Torres has had some success with her ground attack, but more recently she has been on the defensive end. Andrade took her down 10-times and Zhang scored some crucial top position control as well.

The TUF alumni is in a tough spot coming off a trio of losses. This scenario normally pushes good fighters to be better as they recognize the impact of another defeat. It is also worth noting that Rodriguez is a step down in competition compared to the recent caliber of foe that Torres has faced. If Rodriguez can utilize her reach and score from the outside, that is her best avenue to victory. Torres has had success against longer fighters, using kicks at range and working into the clinch. Torres would be wise to threaten with her wrestling when needed- my prediction is Tecia Torres to defeat Marina Rodriguez by decision.

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125lbs- #8 Rogerio Bontorin (15-1-0 1NC) vs #13 Raulian Paiva (18-2-0)

The potential revitalization of the Flyweight division continues with a pair of Brazilian sophomores squaring off as Rogerio Bontorin takes on Raulian Paiva. Paiva is coming off a narrow split decision defeats to Kai-Kara France to end his 12-fight winning streak. Bontorin upset Magomed Bibulatov by split decision to extend his current streak to 3 straight wins.

Raulian is both 2 inches taller than his foe and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Paiva is also the younger man by 3-years.

Bontorin is coming off of a fight where he was outlanded by his foe and gave up 4 takedowns but won a split decision while fighting at home in Brazil. Paiva fought in Australia against a New Zealander and had the better striking stats by a count of 67-58, but dropped a split decision.

Both men are excellent scrambler which should create some entertaining back and forth exchanges on the floor. Bontorin has the edge in submission wins at 12-3. Bontorin has recorded 8 wins by RNC.

Paiva showcased a solid striking repetoire, piecing together multi-punch combos. He was also getting tagged with some decent strikes because he wasn’t moving his head.

Both fighters are capable of competing on the mat or the feet. Paiva showcased good pressure based striking and durability in his debut. Bontorin is a very opportunistic grappler, but that can get him into trouble if he ends up on his back too often. Paiva can convert TDAs into offensive opportunities which will be key against a grappler like Rogerio. The early action should include some back and forth exchanges on the floor before Paiva starts to pull away on the feet- my prediction is Raulian Paiva to defeat Rogerio Bontorin by decision.

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135lbs- Geraldo de Freitas Jr. (12-4-0) vs Chris Gutierrez (13-4-1)

Octagon sophomore Geraldo de Freitas Jr. will attempt to build on a successful debut when he battles Factory X product Chris Gutierrez in the Bantamweight division. Gutierrez most recently took a decision over Ryan MacDonald after falling to Raoni Barcelos by sub. In his debut, de Freitas Jr. grabbed a decision victory over Felipe Colares to extend his winning streak to 7 straight fights.

Both men are 5’9″, but de Freitas Jr. has a longer reach by 3 inches. They are roughly the same age.

The American had finished 6 men by knockout and showcased a technically sound striking attack versus MacDonald. Coming off a 6 takedown performance, Geraldo will most likely want to utilize his grappling attack to negate the striking skills of his foe.

de Freitas has submitted 5 opponents, including 3 of his last 4 finishes. It is worth noting, he made his debut as a Featherweight but is returning to his natural weight class at 135 pounds.

In his debut, Gutierrez got the better of the early striking exchanges with Barcelos, but once the fight hit the floor he struggled to offer much off his back.

If Gutierrez can remain vertical, he can win this fight. The Brazilian is aggressive on the feet and will trade, but he needs to utilize his ground attack to exploit the largest gap in his foe’s defense. Gutierrez has struggled off his back and the ability of Geraldo to scramble to the superior position once on the mat, is going to be difficult for Chris to deal with. Gutierrez will struggle to deal with the takedown threat and this will also open up opportunities on the feet for de Freitas Jr.- my prediction is Geraldo de Freitas Jr. to defeat Chris Gutierrez by submission.

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125lbs- TBA (0-0-0) vs Ariane Carnelossi (12-1-0)

Coming Soon…

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155lbs- Rodrigo Vargas (10-2-0) vs Alex da Silva (20-2-0)

Mexico’s Rodrigo Vargas makes his debut opposing Brazilian-born Alex da Silva in the Lightweight division. Vargas is coming off of an 18-second head kick knockout of UFC veteran Mike de la Torre for his 6th win in 7 fights. In his promotional debut, da Silva fell via submission to hulking Russian Alexander Yakovlev.

The Brazilian is an inch taller and 11-years younger. Vargas has not be very active of late; he has not fought in nearly 15-months and was out almost a year prior to his last fight.

With a finish heavy-record, da Silva has finished all 20 of his pro wins- 13 by knockout. Vargas offers a similar stoppage filled record with 9 of his 10 wins coming inside the distance- 6 by knockout.

da Silva has 17 first-round finishes and is 3-2 outside of round 1. He started strong in his debut, but got stuck in a bad spot, potentially faded, and got submitted in round 2.

Vargas is making his debut as an injury replacement on less than 2-weeks notice. da Silva debuted under similar circumstances.

Vargas is 33-years old, coming off a long layoff and debuting on short notice. Conversely, da Silva is significantly younger, had a full camp, and already has his debut under his belt. This could also be considered a home game for da Silva. Vargas seems to be a little limited after the initial exchanges, plodding forward with single strikes and looking for takedowns. The Brazilian is much more aggressive and persistent with his offense. da Silva will push his foe at a pace he can’t hand and either stop him early or overwhelm him once he fades- my prediction is Alex da Silva to defeat Rodrigo Vargas by TKO.

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170lbs- Gilbert Burns (15-3-0) vs Alexy Kunchenko (20-0-0)

With an injury derailing Laureano Staropoli, Lightweight Gilbert Burns steps in on short notice to face Russia’s Alexy Kunchenko in the Welterweight division. Burns has won back to back bouts, most recently submitting Mike Davis- he is 8-3 in the UFC. The undefeated Russian is off to a strong start in the promotion holding wins over long time veterans Thiago Alves and Yushin Okami.

Despite making the jump up a division, Burns is the taller man by 2-inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. He is the younger fighter by 2 years.

Burns made his debut at Welterweight, before moving down to Lightweight. He will have roughly a week to prep for this bout.

The Brazilian’s success comes down to his takedowns- he is 8-0 when he wins the takedown battle compared to 0-3 when he does not. Kunchenko demonstrated rock solid TDD against Okami, stopping all 15-takedowns attempted by the former Middleweight.

Kunchenko offers a strong short-range striking attack. He hurt Okami during their fight and has recorded 13 wins by knockout.

This fight comes down to whether or not Burns can complete takedowns with regularity. Against a larger man at Welterweight, he will struggle to do so. The late notice could also compromise the cardio of Burns who has slowed when unable to dictate the pace. Kunchenko will work a more technical striking attack and avoid the power of Burns while fending off his takedowns- my prediction is Alexy Kunchenko to defeat Gilbert Burns by TKO.

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125lbs- Veronica Macedo (5-3-1) vs Polyana Viana (10-3-0)

In the first fight of the night, Veronica Macedo looks for her first UFC win when she battles injury-replacement Polyana Viana in the Flyweight division. Macedo is 0-3 in the UFC and winless in her last 4 bouts- she was most recently submitted by Gillian Robertson. Viana won her debut, but has since come up short in defeats to J.J. Aldrich and Hannah Cifers.

The Brazilian is an inch taller to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Macedo is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Rachel Ostovich was originally scheduled to face Macedo, but was removed and replaced by Viana with just over a week to prepare. Polyana is moving up from Strawweight.

The commonality in all of Macedo’s defeats has been takedowns. She was submitted in her last fight and has given up 7 takedowns in 3 fights- stopping just 37% of the attempts.

Viana has finished her adversaries in all 10 wins- 6 by submission. She secured a single TD in her debut before getting the tap. In her last fight, she didn’t attempt a single shot and went 1 for 5 vs Aldrich.

The Brazilian has won 9 of her 10 fights in the opening round, but is 1-3 after the first 5 minutes. Combined with her short notice, her cardio could be an issue. If she can get Veronica down her BJJ offers a direct route to the victory. Conversely, Macedo is going to be the bigger girl as the natural Flyweight and that will make it tough for Viana to overpower here. Look for Macedo to survive some early TDAs and utilize her striking attack once Viana starts to slow down- my prediction is Veronica Macedo to defeat Polyana Viana by decision.

UFC on ESPN 5

170lbs- Mickey Gall (5-2-0) vs Salim Touahri (10-3-0)

The final fight of the night goes down in the Welterweight division as Mickey Gall faces Poland’s Salim “Grizzly” Touahri. Gall has fought all but 1 of his pro bouts in the UFC and after starting with a trio of wins he has gone 1-2 with losses to Randy Brown and Diego Sanchez. Touahri is winless since coming to the promotion, falling on the scorecards to Warlley Alves and Keita Nakamura.

At 6’2″, Gall is 4-inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Mickey is the younger fighter by 3-years and took this fight with a month to prepare.

Gall’s record is a clear indication of his path to success. All 5 of his pro wins have come by submission, all by RNC, and 4 of 5 inside the first frame. Mickey looks to close the gap, initiate a grappling exchange and work towards his foe’s back. In his 2 UFC defeats, Gall struggled or outright failed to find success with his grappling.

In Gall’s 2 UFC losses, he lost the TD battle 5-0 compared to 4 completions and no takedowns given up in his 4 Octagon victories.

In 30 minutes of UFC action, Touahri has defended 9 of 11 takedowns attempts- he gave up 2 in his debut loss to Warlley Alves. He has recorded 6 wins by knockout in addition to a pair of submission wins- 7 ending in the opening round. The Polish fighter hits hard, throwing mainly wide punches. His vertical output is far from overwhelming which does leave him open to being outworked.

Salim made his debut on short notice before taking a nearly 17-month layoff before fighting again.

This fight most likely comes down to whether or not Gall can take Touahri down and keep him there. Gall’s lack of success beyond the first frame is concerning and while Touahri is far from a lock beyond the first 5 minutes, his style seems better suited to hold up over a full 15-minutes. The much taller Gall will struggle to change levels against Touahri and find himself exposed to his superior and more impactful striking as the fight advances- my prediction is Salim Touahri to defeat Mickey Gall by decision.

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125lbs- #15 Antonina Shevchenko (7-1-0) vs Lucie Pudilova (8-4-0)

Looking to rebound from her first career defeat, Antonia Shevchenko meets the Czech Republic’s Lucie Pudilova in the Flyweight division. Shevchenko earned a victory in her debut, but struggled with the takedowns of Roxanne Modafferi on route to a split decision loss. Pudilova is 2-3 in the UFC, coming off back to back losses to Irene Aldana and Liz Carmouche.

Both fighters are 5’8″ and share a 67″ reach. Lucie is the younger fighter by 10-years. This will be Pudilova’s 2nd UFC fight at 125-pounds.

Shevchenko is a talented striker and coming off a pair of fights where she outlanded her opponents almost 2-1. She does her best work in the clinch, landing hard elbows and knee strikes while controlling the movement of her opponent.

Modafferi upset Antonina on the strength of 5 takedowns and prolonged top control.

In a similar fashion, Pudliova has struggled against ground-oriented fighters. In her loss to Carmouche, she gave up a trio of takedowns and struggled early with Sarah Moras on the feet until the Canadian faded.

Pudliova is an active striker and will stand and trade. Her willingness to absorbed damage is a major concern, especially considering she tends to wear a lot of visible damage in her fights.

Pudilova will look to utilize a constant flow of aggression to put Shevchenko on her back foot for the majority of the fight. Antonina will counter with the more technical arsenal, punishing Pudilova as she wades forward before initiating her own forward offense. It is worth noting that Shevchenko did secure a couple of takedowns in her debut and could look to return to that gameplan during this fight. Shevchenko will land the more impactful offense and secures a takedown or 2- my prediction is Antonina Shevchenko to defeat Lucie Pudilova by decision.

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125lbs- #9 Jordan Espinosa (13-5-0 1NC) vs #14 Matt Schnell (13-4-0)

With the Flyweight division taken off life support for the time being, promotional sophomore Jordan Espinosa and Matt “Danger” Schnell collide looking to further establish themselves as a future contender. Espinosa made a successful debut, besting Eric Shelton by decision for his 5th straight victory. Schnell has won a trio of fights, most recently defeating Louis Smolka by submission in a Bantamweight bout.

Schnell is the taller man by 2 inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. Schnell is also the younger fighter by a year.

In his debut, Espinosa utilized a lot of movement- working in and out of range. He does a decent of job working faints to pull out the offense of his foe and keep them guessing defensively. Jordan does have a tendency to hang his hands low, leaving him open if his foe can time him. He has recorded just a pair of knockouts compared to 7 wins by submission.

Espinosa completed just a single takedown in his debut but showcased a more takedown oriented fight in his first Contenders contest.

“Danger” Schnell got off to a rough start to his UFC run with back to back knockout defeats. Since his losses, he has returned to form with an improved striking attack and an opportunistic grappling attack that led to the 8th submission win of his career. He maintains solid pressure when engaging on the feet and recently put up his UFC personal best 71 significant strikes.

Despite a submission heavy-record, Schnell has never completed more than a single takedown in any of his Octagon bouts.

Espinosa looked good in his debut, but he fought an opponent that has traditionally struggled in decisions. Schnell’s more aggressive forward push will put more pressure on Jordan to execute and not just bounce in and out of range. Espinosa has some pop in his strikes, but he lacks the knockout numbers to suggest he can score a finish. Look for Schnell to engage his foe and tax his questionable cardio, pulling away as the fight advances- my prediction is Matt Schnell to defeat Jordan Espinosa by decision.

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125lbs- #9 Lauren Murphy (10-4-0) vs #10 Mara Romero Borella (13-5-0 1NC)

Attempting to make the jump into the top 5, Lauren Murphy battles Italy’s Mara Romero Borella in the Women’s Flyweight division. Murphy is coming off a loss to Sijara Eubanks to fall to 2-4 during her UFC career. Borella is 2-1 inside the Octagon, most recently earning a split decision over Taila Santos.

Borella is the taller fighter by an inch and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Murphy is the older fighter by 2-year and hasn’t fought in nearly 14-months.

The Italian fighter has focussed her attack on the ground, taking each of her opponents down at least once. In her last fight, she survived a near RNC and turn the action in her favour with takedowns and prolonged top control. When she wasn’t able to get the fight to the floor, she spent the majority of it in the clinch with her foe pushed into the cage.

In Borella’s loss to Katlyn Chookagian, she landed 11 more significant and the only takedown of the fight.

Murphy is gritty and willing to grind out a victory by taking the best her opponent has to offer and returning fire. Unfortunately, she has also struggled to distance herself in close fights. She is 3-4 in decisions, including a 1-1 record in split decisions. She has done her best work when she can win the takedown battle and pile up the offense from top position.

While fighting at Bantamweight, Murphy fought and lost to current Flyweight title challenger Liz and the aforementioned top contender Chookagian.

This fight will come down to who finds more success in implementing their ground attack. Borella has been more consistent with her takedowns and Murphy has had issues against opponents that look to take her to the floor. Even if Borella can’t score takedowns, her clinch attack and superior striking volume will give her the edge. Murphy’s track record in decisions is very concerning- my prediction is Mara Romero Borella to defeat Lauren Murphy by decision.

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170lbs- Claudio Silva (13-1-0) vs Cole Williams (11-1-0)

Originally scheduled to square off with Ramazan Emeev, Claudio Silva will now meet promotional newcomer Cole Williams in the Welterweight division. Silva owns a 2014 victory Leon Edwards and returned to his winning ways after a massive layoff with back to back wins over Nordine Taleb and Danny Roberts. Williams has won 9 straight fights dating back to his only career loss coming at the hands of Eric Wisely.

Williams is an inch taller and a year younger than Silva. Williams is replacing Emeev with roughly a week to prepare.

The Brazilian’s approach is relatively simple, close the distance, initiate a grappling exchange, and work towards a submission finish. Despite the straight forward approach of his attack, he has completed 10 takedowns over 4-fights and secured back to back submission.

Silva gutted out a tough performance against Roberts, eventually catching him in a late submission.

Williams has split his 8 finishes evenly between knockouts and submissions to go along with a trio of decision wins. His last 3 opponents have a combined 28-41 with a single fighter accounting for 28 defeats. He appears to be a bit of a generalist, capable in most areas with no real standout skill.

In 2013, Willian took part in Bellator’s Fight Master series, winning a trio of bouts before suffering a defeat to Joe Riggs in the semi-finals.

Silva, as per usual, will want this fight to the hit the floor. His cardio isn’t great and his striking is not that strong which will open the door for Williams if he keeps the action vertical and/or can extend the bout into the later stages. Silva has found success against more experienced and capable fighters and once he gets Williams to the floor he will be in over his head. Silva continues to find success with his ground attack- my prediction is Claudio Silva to defeat Cole Williams by submission.

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125lbs- Miranda Granger (4-0-0) vs Hannah Goldy (2-0-0)

The first fight of the night pits the debuting Miranda Granger taking fellow UFC newcomer and Contender’s series graduate Hannah “Queen of Sparta” Goldy. Granger turned pro in 2017 and picked up a pair of wins in each of her first 2 years of competing- she has not fought in 2019. Goldy scored a decision win over Gillian Robertson in her pro debut back in 2016, but didn’t fight again until her 2019 Tuesday Night Contenders Series victory.

Granger will have a large 7″ reach advantage while standing a full 3 inches taller. They are roughly the same age.

Granger’s last 3 opponents are a combined 11-12, with her most 2 recent opponents carry above .500 records. She has never seen the scorecards, earning a trio of first-round submission wins and one early round 2 TKO stoppage.

Hannah doesn’t have quite as much pro-MMA experience. Both of her fights have gone the distance- with her last opponent holding a respectable 6-3 record with all defeats coming against current or former UFC fighters.

This fight will shake out as the typical striker (Goldy) versus grappler (Granger). Both can hold their own in the other area, but will most likely get second best in this contest if forced to compete there.

Granger is a capable grappler but doesn’t have the takedown game to be a consistent threat against Goldy. Hannah’s striking is solid and her TDD has proven difficult to get past for most. Look for Miranda to come out early looking to take her foe down, but once the early TDAs are nullified- Goldy will take over against a foe with limited long fight experience- my prediction is Hannah Goldy to defeat Miranda Granger by decision.

UFC 240

125lbs- #8 Alexis Davis (19-9-0) vs #15 Viviane Araujo (6-1-0)

The last fight before the main card features former Bantamweight title challenger Alexis “Ally-Gator” Davis taking on Brazilian Viviane Araujo in the Flyweight division. Davis has lost back to back fights to Jennifer Maia and Katlyn Chookagian after a Flyweight debut victory over now title challenger Liz Carmouche. Araujo entered the UFC on short notice at Bantamweight and upset Talita Bernardo via brutal knockout- her 4th win since a loss to Sarah Frota.

Davis is the taller fighter by 2-inches, but they share the same 68″ reach. The Brazilian is the younger fighter by 2-years.

Araujo made a significant impact in her debut, added to her finish heavy record. She has secured a trio of wins by knockout and 4 more by submission. She has secured 4 opening round finishes to go along with 3 stoppages in the final round.

In her debut, her foot speed and overall technique was impressive. She moved in and out of range, stuffing takedowns and landing a variety of damaging offense prior to scoring the finish.

Davis has put together a solid resume against good opposition, but at times she has been a frustrating fighter to back. Davis offers a very capable submission game and can score with her kick-heavy striking attack. Unfortunately, she lacks the wrestling to consistently threaten her opponents on the mat and doesn’t effectively blend the various elements of her attack together.

She is coming off back to back performances where she landed more strikes and takedowns than her foe, but failed to get the nod from the judges. Her last win saw her give up more strikes and takedowns but win a split decision.

Araujo is getting a sizeable push here off of an impressive win. If Davis can find success slowing Araujo down with her leg kicks and plant her on the mat at key moments, she could pull off the upset. Unfortunately for the Canadian, Viviane is too quick for her. Look for the Brazilian to bounce in and out of range, land her own kicks and damaging punches while Davis plods forward trying to return fire. Davis wears a lot of damage in her fights which won’t help her here either, my prediction is Viviane Araujo to defeat Alexis Davis by decision.

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145lbs- Hakeem Dawodu (9-1-1) vs Yoshinori Horie (8-1-0)

In the Featherweight division, Alberta’s “Mean” Hakeem Dawodu takes on the debuting Yoshinori “Rising Son” Horie. Dawodu is 2-1 in the UFC, suffering the first loss of his career in his debut, but rebounding to secure a pair of wins in his next 2 contests. Horie has fought his entire career under the Pancrase banner and has won back to back fights since suffering the first loss of his career.

Both men are 5’8″, but Dawodu will have a 3″ reach advantage. Horie is the younger man by 4-years. Both men are coming into this bout on relatively short notice as it was added to the card roughly 3-weeks prior to the start of the event.

A striking based fighter, Dawodu has finished 6 opponents by knockout but has yet to secure a finish in the UFC. He has badly outlanded each of his last 2 foes by a combined count of 178 to 65. The Alberta-native has showcased a technically sound striking repertoire.

“Mean” Hakeem only career defeat came by submission and he gave up a pair of takedowns in his split decision win over Kyle Bochniak.

Offering a similar record with 5 of 8 wins by knockout, Horie offers a capable counter striking attack with good power. Of his knockouts, 4 have come in the first round. He is quick and his counter right hand is dangerous. His last 3 opponents are a combined 36-33.

His only career defeat came via 2nd round TKO against UFC veteran Issei Tamura.

Dawodu is in a better spot with a trio of UFC fights already under his belt and he is also fighting at home. Conversely, Yoshinori is making his debut and fighting in North America for the first time. Nonetheless, he is far more dangerous than the lines suggests. Hakeem’s ability to limit his opponent’s offense while piling up his own will make it difficult for Horie to score with his counter-heavy attack- my prediction is Hakeem Dawodu to defeat Yoshinori Horie by decision.

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145lbs- Gavin Tucker (10-1-0) vs Seungwoo Choi (7-1-0)

“The Newfoundland Terror” Gavin Tucker looks to rebound from his first career defeat when he faces off with South Korea’s Seungwoo Choi in the Featherweight division. Tucker bested Sam Sicilia in his debut, but suffered a brutal decision defeat to veteran Rick Glenn in his next fight. Choi made his debut last April in Russia, dropping a decision to Movsar Evloev.

At 6’0″, Choi is a full 6-inches taller than Tucker to go along with a massive 8″ reach advantage. Choi is the younger fighter by 6-years.

The Canadian is returning after a prolonged layoff. He last fought in September 2017- a 22-month layoff. Choi made his debut with just 3-weeks to prepare and off a 17-month layoff.

Choi is is a capable striker, but spend the majority of his debut on the defensive as his opponent routinely put him on the floor. He landed some decent strikes in the few moments he was able to stay vertical, but unfortunately showed very little of his striking skills.

The South Korean fighter has finished 5 foes by knockout- 3 in the first frame.

Tucker put on an impressive show in his debut. He utilized a lot of movement, working in and out to limit the ability of his foe to land counters. He battered Sicilia’s legs with hard leg kicks, stepping in to add to the impact.

Against Glenn, Tucker took some big shots that turned the fight. Additionally, he has appeared to fade in each of his fights.

The layoff for Tucker is concerning. Furthermore, Gavin took a significant beating against Glenn which exposed his lack of a gas tank. Choi isn’t an aggressive striker at first push, but he throws hard barrages and his counters are damaging. Tucker will find some early success moving in and out, but once he slows a little and Choi get his timing he will begin to struggle. Look for the reach of Choi to create some issues as well- my prediction is Seungwoo Choi to defeat Gavin Tucker by TKO.

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125lbs- #3 Alexandre Pantoja (20-3-0) vs #4 Deiveson Figueiredo (15-1-0)

With the Flyweight division potentially on the verge of a rebirth, a pair of top-ranked contenders square off as Alexandre Pantoja takes on fellow-Brazilian Deiveson Figueiredo. Pantoja has won 3 in a row dating back to a decision loss to Dustin Ortiz- he has lost just once over his last 14-fights. Figueiredo dropped a decision to Jussier Formiga for the first loss of his career- he had previously won 4-straight fights to begin his UFC run.

Both men are 5’5″, but Figueiredo will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Pantoja is 3-years younger.

Pantoja’s success has hinged largely on his ability to stay vertical and land decent volume. He can do damage in the clinch and his kicks at distance are a key element of his offense. Defensively, his opponents have found some success taking him down including 7 completions by Ortiz is his lone UFC loss and 14 takedowns over 6 Octagon entries.

Pantoja has recorded 7 wins y knockout and 8 by submission. He has added to each total over his last 2 fights- both ending in the opening round.

Figueiredo has had similar struggles with takedown oriented fighters- Formiga bested with on the basis of 3 takedowns and a nullifying top game. Deiveson has shown his striking prowess in the UFC, stopping his foe via TKO in 3 of his 4 wins. He throws hard and does a decent job of maintaining pressure.

Prior to the Formiga loss, Figueiredo showed he can work on the mat with back to back 2-takedown performances. He offers solid ground and pound once on the floor.

Figueiredo struggled with the grappling of Formiga and it compromised his vertical aggression. Pantoja can crack but he doesn’t appear to have the power that Deiveson offers. Additionally, the gas tank of Alexandre has been a concern in more demanding bouts. This fight should be mainly contested on the feet with Figueiredo pushing forward and landing the more impactful offense. The opening round should be competitive, but Figueiredo’s more physical style will wear on Pantoja and allow him to pull away in rounds 2 and 3- my prediction is Deiveson Figueiredo to defeat Alexandre Pantoja by decision.

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125lbs- Gillian Robertson (6-3-0) vs Sarah Frota (9-1-0)

The last fight of the prelims transpires in the Women’s Flyweight division as Canadian Gillian “The Savage” Robertson meets Brazilian Sarah Frota. Frota fought at Strawweight and fell to Livia Souza in her debut- the first loss of her pro career. Robertson is 3-1 in the UFC, recording a trio of submission wins including her most recent victory over Veronica Macedo.

Frota is the taller girl by an inch and will have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. The Canadian is the younger fighter by 8-years. As mentioned, Sarah debut at 115-pounds against Souza, but missed weight by 7-pounds. She is moving back up a weight class which should help her on the scales.

The Brazilian dropped a short notice split decision to the former Invicta FC champ. She showcased capable striking, throwing hard strikes that back Souza up on multiple occasions. She has finished 7 of her 9 wins, 5 by submission.

Frota gave up 4-takedowns in her debt and appeared to fade as the fight advanced.

With a similar submission heavy record, Robertson has tapped her foe in 5 of her 6 victories- 3 by armbar. She works well off her back and has taken down each of her 4 Octagon foes. Robertson was submitted in her second last fight, finding early success on the floor before getting caught in an armbar midway through the opening round.

Gillian is good in a scramble and while she has gotten a little over-zealous at times resulting in some bad positions, she usually works her way out of the spot.

If Robertson can take Frota down with regularity and/or capitalize on a good position and grab a sub that is her best avenue to victory. Unfortunately, she is self-admittedly a position over submission fighter which is problematic over a capable grappler like Frota. On the feet, the Brazilian has a significant power edge and Robertson’s lack of reach and still improving striking attack won’t be enough. Frota will stuff the early TDAs, potentially hold some key top time, but ultimately score big points on the feet as she backs Robertson up with power punches- my prediction is Sarah Frota to defeat Gillian Robertson by decision.

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170lbs- Erik Koch (15-6-0) vs Kyle Stewart (11-2-0)

In the Welterweight division, Roufussport product Erik “Phoenix” Koch returns to action against UFC sophomore Kyle “Gunz Up” Stewart. Koch has lost back to back fights and 5 of his last 7 outings- most recently falling to Clay Guida and Bobby Green. Stewart fell via submission to Chance Rencountre, falling to 1-2 over his last 3 fights.

Koch is making the move to Welterweight after fighting at both Featherweight and Lightweight. He has not competed in over 18-months. Stewart is 4-inches taller than Koch and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Erik is the older man by a year.

Stewart was nullified in his debut by the mat game of his foe. He has struggled with ground-centric opponents, including his Contender’s series opponent who held top position before succumbing to an ankle injury.

Despite making waves at Featherweight, Koch has struggled to find much momentum after his early success. He offers a capable striking game and is good on the mat. He has secured 8 wins by submission, but just 1 in his last 10 outings.

His chin is an area of concern has he has been finished twice by strikes.

The size of Stewart is a concern for Koch, as is his layoff. That being said, Stewart’s shaky TDD plays directly into the hands of the submissions skills of “Phoenix”. There is a great deal of pressure on Koch here as he has to be running out of opportunities to stay on the roster. Look for Koch to find success taking Stewart to the floor and eventually working to his back- my prediction is Erik Koch to defeat Kyle Stewart by submission.

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265lbs- Tanner Boser (16-5-1) vs Giacomo Lemos (6-0-0)

The first fight of the night features a pair of debuting Heavyweights as Alberta’s own Tanner “The Bulldozer” Boser battles Brazilian Giacomo Lemos. Lemos is undefeated including a pair of 2019 TKO wins- he turned pro in 2016 and has finished all of his opponents. Boser has also fought twice this year and is 1-0-1 and holds win overs veterans DJ Linderman and Chase Gormley.

At 6’3″, Lemos is the taller man by an inch. The Canadian is the younger fighter by 2-years. Boser turned pro in 2012 and has a sizeable 22-6 edge in experience despite being the younger man.

Both fighters have knockout heavy win totals; Boser at 8 and Giacomo finishing 5 of 6 wins by knockout. The edge in long fight experience goes to Tanner who has fought into the championship rounds at multiple times during his career.

Lemos last 3 adversaries are a combined 40-43 while Boser recent trio of foes hold a total record of 38-20.

The Brazilian is a hulking bruiser that relies on muscling stiff kicks and punches devoid of much technique. Lemos has only fought beyond the middle round once (his pro debut), but his lack of footspeed makes it difficult to determine if his cardio is an issue or not.

Boser has fought into the 3rd round or beyond in 10 of his last 11 fights- including 4 bouts that went 4 and 5 rounds. Unusual for a Heavyweight. He throws some decent leg kicks and is coming off a TKO stoppage via kicks. He lacks urgency in his offense and is willing to sit back and throw single strikes.

Lemos’s lack of speed and stiff striking will make it difficult to track Boser down on the feet. Although, Boser’s low offensive output is concerning especially if he spends the majority of each round backtracking. Look for the leg kicks of the Canadain to play a significant role and he further limits the movement of his opponent and outpoints him over 3 rounds- my prediction is Tanner Boser to defeat Giacomo Lemos by decision.

UFC ON ESPN 4

145lbs- Alex Caceres (14-12-0 1NC) vs Steven Peterson (17-8-0)

The final fight on the undercard takes place in the Featherweight division as fan favourite Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres battles Tuesday Night Contender’s Series alumni Steven Peterson. Peterson is coming off a decision loss to Luis Pena which knocked is Octagon mark to 1-2. Caceres has fought 20-times in the UFC, winning 9, but most recently suffering a submission loss to Kron Gracie.

Both men are 5’10”, but Caceres will have a 3″ reach advantage. Peterson is the younger man by 2-years.

Peterson has shown himself capable of putting on entertaining fights. He is an aggressive striker that will trade with his opponent with minimal concern for defense.

Willing to look to the ground, Peterson has had a lot of success with his takedowns- he has completed 7 over 3 UFC fights at a 25% completion rate.

Caceres is coming off the 7th submission loss of his career, his first since early 2017. Despite his clear vulnerability on the floor, Alex has also shown he is a decent grappler that can be dangerous against the right opponent.

On the feet, “Bruce Leeroy” is unorthodox with his technique and can use his length effectively. Conversely, he has struggled with pressure and /or faced with an opponent that offers some striking power.

While Caceres has the reach advantage, he is going to struggle to back Peterson up. Look for a steady stream of pressure from Peterson witch Caceres failing to match his output. Alex’s TDD is a concern and Steven should be able to exploit it to augment his aggressive striking attack. Caceres has struggled in decisions and that continues here, my prediction is Steven Peterson to defeat Alex Caceres by decision.

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135lbs- #6 Raquel Pennington (9-8-0) vs #10 Irene Aldana (9-4-0)

Former Bantamweight title challenger Raquel “Rocky” Pennington takes on Mexico’s Irene Aldana in a battle of ranked contenders. Pennington has lost back to back fights, including her title bout defeat to Amanda Nunes and a decision loss to Germain de Randamie. Aldana has won a trio of bouts to rebound from an 0-2 start; most recently she bested former title challenger Bethe Correia by submission.

Aldana is the taller fighter by 2-inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. They are roughly the same age.

Pennington went 4.5-rounds with Nunes, something that none of Cyrbog, Holly Holm, Miesha Tate, or Ronda Rousey can say. She also went the distance with GDR which isn’t easy. The loss to the “Iron Lady” fell into the post-title fight letdown scenario which could be attributed to her performance.

Aldana started slow out of the gates, dropping back to back fights on the cards. She has since rallied earning a trio of 3rd round victories- 2 by decision.

The Mexico native lost her first 4 fights to go beyond the first frame, but she has been more successful of late. Irene has finished her opponent in 8 of 10 wins- 5 by knockout.

On the mat, “Rocky” is capable of pulling off a submission (3) and can work takedowns when needed. Look for her to fight at close range with her striking where she can transition to a clinch attack or set up a takedown.

While Aldana’s performances have been improving, her defensive striking is still a concern. She has given up over 100 significant strikes on 3 different occasions and was headed in that direction again before subbing Bethe.

If Pennington loses, it could be argued that her time as a contender is over. Aldana struggled at times with the pressure of Bethe, something that Raquel should be able to replicate. As the fight progressed, Aldana was taking some damage and starting to get outworked. Pennington’s ability to utilize the clinch and threaten with takedowns is key against a fighter that tends to fade. If Aldana can stay mobile, she could point her way to victory- but instead, look for Pennington to keep pushing forward, punch, clinch, and continue to threaten with potential takedowns- my prediction is Raquel Pennington to defeat Irene Aldana by decision.

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205lbs- Sam Alvey (33-12-0) vs Klidson Abreu (14-3-0)

Despite his recent struggles “Smilin'” Sam Alvey continues in the Light Heavyweight division when he takes on Brazil’s Klidson Abreu. Abreu fell via decision to highly touted Magomed Ankalaev in his debut ending his 6-fight winning streak. Alvey began his tenure at 205 with a pair of wins including a split decision victory over Gian Villante but he has recently lost back to back fights by knockout.

Alvey is the taller man by 2-inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. The Brazilian is 6-years younger than Sam.

Succes for Alvey hinges heavily on his knockout power. He likes to sit back and counter-strike, looking to catch an overly aggressive opponent moving forward.

If he is unable to land the finishing blow, Alvey’s lack of activity and has got him in trouble on the scorecards and more recently his durability has become an issue.

Abreu has finished all 14 of his wins, 10 by submission- 8 in the first frame.

The Brazilian is good on the mat and can set it up with well-timed takedowns. He effectively can anticipate his opponent pushing forward and change levels for a TD. On the mat, he is an aggressive guard passer and will attack subs from almost any position.

Abreu vertical offense is serviceable, mainly single strikes with some power. He landed a decent right hook to hurt Ankalaev, but took some serious damage as well, suffering a nasty broken nose- but battling through it.

Alvey has just a single knockout win over his last 9 fight and has barely edged out a pair of recent split decisions. Abreu has enough power to hurt him despite his lack of strong striking acumen. He is also willing to press the action in pursuit of grappling opportunities which will sit well with the judges. While Sam’s TDD is solid, even if Abreu can’t get him down he should be able to control him on the wall and score more points than the counter-focused American- my prediction is Klidson Abreu to defeat Sam Alvey by knockout.

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125lbs- #5 Roxanne Modafferi (23-16-0) vs #6 Jennifer Maia (16-5-1)

A participant in the division first UFC title fight, Roxanne Modafferi takes on former Invicta FC champion Jennifer Maia. Modafferi is coming off of an upset split decision win over Antonina Shevchenko to even her UFC record at 2-2. Maia bested Alexis Davis on the scorecards her 1st UFC win and 7th victory over her last 8 fights.

Roxanne is 3-inches taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage. She is 6-years older than Maia.

This fight is a rematch from late 2016 that saw Maia take a split decision over Modafferi in defense of her Invicta title.

Modafferi has utilized an improved wrestling game at the center of her success. She completed 5 takedowns in her win over Shevchenko and 9 over her last 4 UFC fights.

Maia has given up 4 takedowns in 30 minutes of Octagon action. She is replacing Liz Carmouche on 1-month’s notice.

The Brazilian’s strength has been her striking, landing with decent volume and backing her foe up. Maia has had issues with being a bit of a slow starter. Notably, in her first fight with Roxanne, she rallied in the later stages to grab a split decision.

Maia is the more talented striker, but she has a glaring weakness when it comes to her TDD and defensive grappling. Modafferi is capable of exploiting this gap and grinding her opponent into the mat. Jennifer’s struggles on the floor combined with a tendency to get off to a slow start catches up to her here- my prediction is Roxanne Modafferi to defeat Jennifer Maia by decision.

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135lbs- Ray Borg (6-1-0) vs Gabriel Silva (8-0-0)

In the 3rd of 3 consecutive Bantamweight bouts to begin the card, former Flyweight title contender Ray “The Texicutoner” Borg battles the debuting Gabriel Silva. Borg has lost back to back battles, falling to Demetrious Johnson and then dropping his UFC Bantamweight debut. Undefeated, Silva returned to action at LFA 76 and secure a first frame knockout win.

Borg has had issues making weight both at 125 and 135 pounds. Silva is the taller fighter by 2-inches and will have an 8″ reach advantage.

Following his title fight loss, Borg had to deal with a number of distractions and battle through the “post-title fight” letdown scenario which appeared to compromise his last performance.

Silva has had recent issues with remaining active, sitting out nearly 2-years between each of his last 3 fights. He has recorded a trio of first-round knockouts and his last 3 foes have a combined record of 30-13.

Gabriel Silva is the younger brother of former UFC fighter Erick Silva.

Similar to his brother, Silva can be wild with his striking and while is cardio is better- he will slow down. His lack of activity is also concerning. Borg is in a make or break scenario here. A 3-fight losing streak with back to back losses to debuting fighters is not a strong case to remain on the roster. Look for Borg to counter the reckless striking of Silva with a steady diet of well-timed takedowns and control on the floor- my prediction is Ray Borg to defeat Gabriel Silva by decision.

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135lbs- Mario Bautista (6-1-0) vs Jin Soo Son (9-3-0)

A pair of promotional sophomores make their second walks to the cage when Mario Bautista meets the DEEP veteran Jin Soo Son in the Bantamweight division. In his debut, Bautista suffered a first-round submission loss to Cory Sandhagen- the first loss of his career. Son debuted against Petr Yan, putting on an entertaining fight but losing a decision.

Mario is 3-inches taller, but they share an identical 69″ reach.

Both fighters took made their debuts on short-notice.

Bautista is a finisher, stopping his foe in 5 of his 6 wins. He has a trio of submission wins and has fought beyond the 2nd round just once in his career.

South Korea’s Son, has finished 6 opponents- 4 by knockout, but he is a concerning 3-3 in decisions. Against Yan, he put on a show and pushed the Russian striker in an entertaining battle before slowing in the second half of the fight.

The American landed a takedown on Sandhagen, which will most likely be his focus here against a striking based opponent.

Son is willing to eat big strikes and his durability is impressive. He will need to press the action against Bautista without opening himself up to counter takedowns.

With neither man coming off of a full camp for their debuts, it is hard to get a good read on what they can do at this level. This fight shakes down as the typical striker versus grappler. If Bautista can take Son down, he either scores a submission or grinds out a decision win. Son’s aggressive striking will be a lot for Mario to handle on the feet. Son has also shown he can do work on the floor which arguably makes him the more diverse fighter. Mario’s lack of wrestling shows up here against a shorter fighter willing to stick in the pocket and press the action- my prediction is Jin Soo Son to defeat Mario Bautista by TKO.

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135lbs- Domingo Pilarte (8-1-0) vs Felipe Colares (8-1-0)

The first fight of the night transpires in the Bantamweight division as UFC sophomore Felipe Colares takes on Contender’s Series graduate Domingo Pilarte. Pilarte defeated current roster member Vince Morales by submission to extend his current winning streak to 5 in a row. Colares is coming off the first loss of his career, dropping his debut on the cards to Geraldo de Freitas.

A towering Bantamweight, Pilarte stands 6’0″, 4-inches taller than Colares to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Colares is the younger man by 4-years. Pilarte hasn’t fought in just over 12-months.

Pilarte is fighting at home in Texas.

In his bout with Morales, Pilarte landed some good strikes early that had Morales backing up. Despite nearly getting finished via strikes at the end of round 1, the Texan rallied to secure a middle frame RNC submission.

Corales has 5 wins by submission on his record but lost the takedown battle 6-3 in his debut. He has a trio of guillotines with all 5 sub wins coming by some form of chokes.

On the feet, Corales was getting backed up and struggled to deal with the striking of his foe. The length of Pilarte could create further issues when trading on the feet.

In a close fight, Pilarte fighting could get the nod based on home-field advantage. He more than held his own with Morales early in their fight and he should have the edge over Colares when trading. Felipe will be hardpressed to find success with his grappling. The length of Pilarte will make it hard for Colares to get on on the inside and the Texan’s size will make it hard to take him down. Pilarte will do damage on the feet and could find success on the mat if he opts to go there- but my prediction is Domingo Pilarte to defeat Felipe Colares by TKO.

UFC Fight Night 155

205lbs- John Allan (13-5-0) vs Mike Rodriguez (10-3-0)

The final fight of the prelims was scheduled to feature Mike Rodriguez taking on Gian Villante, but with Villante out John Allan gets the short notice debut. Rodriguez dropped his debut to Devin Clark, but rebounded with a knockout win over Adam Milstead. Allan lost his Brazil Contenders fights to Vinicius Moreira to end a 4-fight winning streak- returned to the regional scene and secured a TKO win.

Rodriguez is an inch taller, but will have a sizeable 7″ reach advantage. Allan is the younger man by 5-years, but he will have just over a week to prepare.

The Brazilian has finished 12 of his 13 wins- 9 by knockout and 8 in the first round. All but 1 of his 5 defeats have come by submission. His last 3 wins have come over a trio of adversaries with a combined 51-36 record.

Rodriguez looked good against Milstead, battering him on the feet prior to scoring the finish. Against Clark, he struggled to let his hands good enough to counteract the impact of 7 completed takedowns.

On the feet, Allan throws with power and will mix up his offense by going to the body. He does have a tendency to sit directly in front of his opponent and leaves his head on the center line when engaging.

This fight could devolve into a pretty fun brawl for as long as it lasts. Both fighters are willing to throw hands, but Rodriguez appears to have the superior tools. With Allan deploying his offense with minimal head or lateral movement, Rodriguez’s reach and more varied offense should come into play. Mike will also utilize his kicks to keep the Brazilian off-balance when stuck on the outside- my prediction is Mike Rodriguez to defeat John Allan by decision.

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145lbs- Andre Fili (19-6-0) vs Sheymon Moraes (11-3-0)

In a potential Fight of the Night candidate, Team Alpha Males’ Andre “Touchy” Fili fights fellow California-based fighter Sheymon Moraes in the Featherweight division. Fili is coming off an impressive win over Myles Jury to secure his 3rd win in 4 outings. Moraes fell via decision to Sodiq Yusuff to snap his 2-fight winning streak- he is 2-2 in the UFC.

Fili is the taller man by 3 inches to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. They are roughly the same age.

A dangerous striker, Moraes packs considerable power in his offense. He badly hurt Arce on route to a split decision win, but struggled with the volume of Yusuff in his last fight.

Sheymon does hit hard, but he often finds himself willing to sacrifice volume for power. Additionally, he tends to slow in the second half of the fight, often losing the final round.

Fili put together his best overall striking performance, landing just short of 100 significant strikes and busting up jury with a sharp jab. “Touchy” improved activity has been the key to his recent success.

He has also found success blending in his wrestling, completing 11 takedowns over his 3 fights prior to the Jury victory.

Fili has been finished before with strikes and that is a concern against Moraes. The development of Andre’s jab and improved volume is the key here. Look for Fili to be more active on the feet, utilizing his reach to score against Moraes as he focuses on less frequent power strikes. In the second half of the fight, Fili should look to add in his wrestling to score points and further tire his foe- my prediction is Andre Fili to defeat Sheymon Moraes by decision.

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135lbs- Julianna Pena (9-3-0) vs Nico Montano (4-2-0)

A pair of fighters return after a prolonged hiatus meet in the Women’s Bantamweight division as TUF 18 winner Julianna Pena battles former Flyweight champion and TUF 26 winner Nico Montano.

Montano last fought 19-months ago while Pena hasn’t competed in almost 30-months. Pena is an inch taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage.

Montano was stripped of her title after a failed weight cut and has moved up a division to avoid future. Issues, she also ran afoul of USADA which cost her some additional time on the sidelines.

The returning Julianna is replacing the injured Sara McMann with roughly 3 weeks to prep for this fight.

Pena was on the cusp of title contention with 4-straight wins, but suffered a momentum-halting submission loss to now 125-pound champion Valentina Shevchenko.

Both girls have relied on their takedowns games to build their offense around. Pena has a trio of pre-UFC submission wins, but has opted to focus more on her GNP once on the floor.

There are benefits to moving up a division for Montano, but losing the size advantage that allowed her to control her foes on the mat is concerning. Pena is the better ground fighter and should be able to utilize her size advantage along with her technique to put Nico on the floor with regularity. The experience factor both in quality and quantity also favours Pena if the layoff doesn’t hamper her performance- my prediction is Julianna Pena to defeat Nico Montano by TKO.

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145lbs- #15 Darren Elkins (24-7-0) vs Ryan Hall (7-1-0)

Hanging on to his spot in the rankings, Darren “The Damage” Elkins will battle grappling ace Ryan “The Wizard” Hall in the Featherweight division. Elkins is coming off a brutal stoppage loss to Ricardo Lamas and has now lost back to back fights after a 6-fight winning streak. Hall dropped his pro debut but has won 7 straight fights since, including a submission win over BJ Penn in his last fight.

Both men are 5’10”, but Elkins will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Hall is the younger man by a year.

Hall has submitted his foe in just 3 of his 7 pro wins and has secured just 1 takedown over his 3 UFC outings. Additionally, he has struggled to remain active fighting just once in 2015, 2016, and 2018 while missing all of 2017.

Hall did compete on TUF in 2015 and secured a pair of heel hook submission wins.

Elkins has made a career out of defying expectations. He is a grinder that has showcased his ability to be effective both on the mat and the feet. He averages just over 2.5 takedowns per fight, but he has also had his struggle with fighters that utilize a ground-centric offense.

He was submitted by Charles Oliveira in 2010 for his only submission loss.

The striking of Hall is fairly basic and meant entirely to keep his opponent at a distance while Hall preps his grappling attack. Look for him to use a lot of kicks before diving on an opponents leg or clinching and looking for a standing back take.

If Elkins can survive or avoid the early exchanges on the mat, he has the skills to grind out a decision win with a more active striking offense. Hall’s lack of strong competition is concerning, especially when ranked against who Elkins has faced. That being said, Hall’s unorthodox leg attacks will pose a problem, especially for an opponent will constantly be looking to close the gap- my prediction is Ryan Hall to defeat Darren Elkins by submission.

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115lbs- #10 Livinha Souza (13-1-0) vs Brianna Van Buren (8-2-0)

A pair of former Invicta FC Strawweight Champions battle it out as Livinha Souza takes on the most recent fighter to hold the title- Brianna Van Buren. Souza has won 4 in a row and is undefeated in the UFC with wins over Alex Chambers and Sarah Frota. Van Buren lost her Invicta debut, but won her next 5 fights including a trio of fights during a 1-night tournament to capture the Invicta strap.

Souza is the taller girl by 3-inches to go along with a slight 1″ reach advantage. Van Buren is the younger girl by 2 years.

BVB is making her debut with a month to prep as she replaces Cynthia Calvillo. She is fighting at home and holds several wins over UFC experienced opposition.

A BJJ Black belt, Souza has secured 8 of her 13 wins by sub- 6 in the first round. She is coming off of a 4-takedown decision win. Against Frota, Souza utilized a nice judo-style throw to score an early takedown, but she lost position when she looked for a submission.

Van Buren showcased her power wrestling game in her Invicta tournament win. After blasting her opponents with well-timed power double leg, her top game was strong and she showed she can finish once on the floor.

Souza is active off her back, but if she can’t secure a sub or counter out of the position- Van Buren is dangerous on top and can take over a fight.

Souza’s height advantage will work against her here. She will struggle to effectively change levels or control the shorter Van Buren in the clinch. Conversely, BVB will be able to make quickl level changes on Souza as she comes forward. Livia had issues with the power punching of Frota and Van Buren has shown she can throw good volume with power. Look for BVB to push Souza early and take control of the fight once she slows in rounds 2 and 3- my prediction is Brianna Van Buren to defeat Livia Souza by decision.

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135lbs- Pingyuan Liu (13-5-0) vs Jonathan Martinez (10-2-0)

The second of a 4-pack of Bantamweight bouts on the night sees China’s Pingyuan Liu take on Texas-native Jonathan Martinez. Liu has won 9 in a row including a pair of Octagon battles against Damian Stasiak and Martin Day. Martinez lost his short-notice debut to Andre Soukhamthath, but rebounded with a victory over Wuliji Buren in February.

Martinez is the taller man by 2-inches, but Liu will have a 2″ reach advantage. Jonathan is the younger man by a year.

While Liu is originally from China, he is a member of Team Alpha Male which makes this a home game for him.

Statistically, Pingyuan was badly outpointed in his last fight- losing the striking battle 100-55. He countered the volume wuth pressure, clinch fighting, and more impactful offense.

Martinez has given up 6 takedowns over his 2 UFC fights, defending just 3 of the combined 9 TDAs. Liu has shown a willingness to wrestle, but with limited success.

If Martinez can stay on the feet, he could find success with his length and volume. He also showcased some stopping power with 5 straight knockouts to start his career. None since.

Last time out, Martinez benefited from an opponent that didn’t throw a lot on the feet. This allowed him to overcome the multiple takedowns he gave up. Coming out of TAM, Liu will build an attack around exploiting this in conjunction with his striking. Pingyuan will close the gap and keep Martinez on the cage while looking to complete takedowns and land striking offense. This fight stands to be close, but Liu has more weapons- my prediction is Pingyuan Liu to defeat Jonathan Martinez by decision.

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135lbs- Benito Lopez (9-1-0) vs Vince Morales (9-3-0)

The opening fight of the card features Benito “Golden Boy” Lopez battling fellow Contenders Series graduate Vince “Vandetta” Morales in the Bantamweight division. Lopez won his debut, but suffered the first loss of his career against Manny Bermudez. Morales lost for the first time in his UFC debut, but rebounded with a victory over Aiemann Zahabi in his sophomore appearance.

Lopez is the taller man by 3 inches and will have a similar reach advantage. Benito is the younger man by 4-years.

With both fighters recently suffering their first career losses, that becomes a relevant scenario. Morales got back in the win column in his last fight- taking some pressure off. Conversely, Lopez is coming off his first-ever defeat. This should motivate him to put on a strong performance.

Morales took this fight on 2-weeks notice, replacing Martin Day.

“Vandetta” has shown he can strike and has some decent power. Against Zahabi, he had some issues closing the distance and his striking was a little predictable at times.

All 5 of Lopez’s finishes have occurred in the first round.

This fight should be contested primarily on the feet and will most likely devolve into a brawl once both fighters open up. Lopez could find a slight edge on the mat if they hit the ground. On the feet, look for Lopez to utilize his reach advantage, forcing Morales to cover more distance. Benito is the more varied striker and is fighting at home which will provide further motivation- my prediction is Benito Lopez to defeat Vince Morales by decision.

UFC 239

145lbs- Gilbert Melendez (22-7-0) vs Arnold Allen (14-1-0)

In the final fight of the undercard, former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez returns to action to face surging Brit Arnold Allen in the Featherweight division. Allen is an impressive 5-0 in the UFC, most recently scoring a decision win over Jordan Rinaldi. Melendez has struggled during his UFC tenure- he is a dismal 1-5 with his only victory coming against Diego Sanchez back in 2013.

Melendez has not fought in roughly 20-months. He is 12-years older than Allen, but he will stand an inch taller to go along with a 3″ reach advantage.

Gilbert has been facing top-level competition since he came into the promotion, including a pair of title fight losses. The cut to Featherweight was expected to reinvigorate Melendez, but instead, he got outworked worse than he did at Lightweight.

Despite recording 11 wins by knockout, Gil has not finished an opponent since 2011.

While he might be undefeated, Allen has had to pull off a couple of come-from-behind victories. He has had issues with takedown oriented fighters. Giving up 12 takedowns over a trio of fights. He has also found success going offensive with his wrestling, but he does his best work on the feet.

Arnold has never fought in the USA, spending the majority of his career at home.

The cut to Featherweight seemed to magnify Melendez’s struggles and the layoff certainly isn’t going to help either. If Melendez can turn back the clock and meld together his aggressive striking offense with a couple of timely takedowns, he could edge out a decision. Unfortunately, Allen’s speed and superior striking will be the difference over the duration of the fight- my prediction is Arnold Allen to defeat Gilbert Melendez by decision.

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135lbs- Marlon Vera (13-5-1) vs Nohelin Hernandez (10-2-0)

With Sean O’Malley off of the card, Marlon Vera gets a new opponent in the debut Nohelin Hernandez. Vera has won 3-fights in a row, most recently defeating Frankie Saenz by TKO. Hernandez has also won 3 in a row compiling victories under the Bellator, LFA, and Tachi Palace Fights banners.

Hernandez is the taller man by 2-inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. He is 2-years younger than Vera and is making his debut with just a week to prep.

A multi-faceted fighter, Vera has started to add a dangerous striking attack to an already sound submission game. He has finished his foe in 6 of his 7 UFC fights. He does a decent job of utilizing his length when striking, offering some decent kicks and knees. He has also shown himself capable of operating in the clinch.

Despite his capable grappling skills, Vera has completed just 6 takedowns compared to 11 completed by his opponents over 11 fights.

Hernandez has some solid experience outside of the UFC. His last 3 opponents are a combined 28-14. An aggressive striker, he has recorded a trio of wins by knockout and is 6-1 on the scorecards. Hernandez likes to move forward and trade. He might not be as varied as his opponent, but his willingness to press forward makes him effective.

In his last defeat, got caught and dropped on multiple occasions in the opening round, but proved tough to finish and lasted the full 15-minutes.

Vera is a bit of a slow starter. He has battled through multiple fights where he was getting beaten before rallying for the finish. Hernandez is coming in on short notice which is not an easy task. To be successful, he will need to press Vera and keep engaging. Nohelin is the taller man which will aid him during the exchanges. If Vera can’t find success with his wrestling, look for Hernandez to outwork him on the feet. Unless Marlon can score a finish his struggles in decisions (2-5) will cost him here- my prediction is Nohelin Hernandez to defeat  Marlon Vera by decision.

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115lbs- #5 Claudia Gadelha (16-4-0) vs #14 Randa Markos (9-7-1)

Former Strawweight title challenger Claudia Gadelha will attempt to halt her descent down the ranks when she takes on Canadian Randa Markos. Gadelha is coming off a loss to Nina Ansaroff and has just a single split decision win over her last 3 outings. Markos scored a submission victory over Angela Hill and is 2-1-1 over her last 4 fights.

Both girls are 5’4″ and have an identical 63″ reach. Gadelha is the younger girl by 3-years.

Gadelha is an absolute monster on the mat which has been her key to success. Her inability to maintain her ground success has been at the heart of her struggles. The Brazilian is a fast starter, but her cardio issues make it difficult for her to maintain her offense.

Against Ansaroff she landed an early takedown, but once the action returned to the feet she looked tired and lost. She went 1 for 6 on her TDAs over the next 2 rounds.

Markos has had similar success with her ground game. She has taken down all but 1 of her UFC opponents and she is coming off her first UFC win by sub- 4th of her career. Randa can also operate on the feet, throwing with decent power.

Markos is 5-5-1 on the scorecards including a 1-2 record in split decisions.

Neither girl has elite level cardio and whoever fades first will most likely lose this contest. Gadelha is the more accomplish ground fighter, but Markos has shown she can hold her own on the floor. More important, Randa is a good scrambler and will force Claudia to expend a lot of energy to keep her on the floor. Look for Gadelha to come out strong, but fade and Markos to take over the final 2 rounds with a more consistent striking attack- my prediction is Randa Markos to defeat Claudia Gadelha by decision.

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135lbs- #14 Alejandro Perez (22-7-1) vs Song Yadong (13-3-0 2NC)

The first fight of the televised prelims is a battled of ranked Bantamweight and TUF winner Alejandro Perez and China’s Song Yadong. Perez is coming off of a loss to Cody Stamann, ending his 7-fight undefeated streak. Yadong has won 6 consecutive bouts, including a trio of UFC victories- most notably scoring a TKO win over Felipe Arantes.

Yadong is 2-inches taller, but he and Perez share a 67″ reach. Song is the younger man by 8-years.

Perez has built his UFC run on winning narrow decisions, some controversial. He has a decent kicking attack and will sit back and counter against an aggressive opponent. His willingness to allow his foe to lead the exchanges has resulted in some close striking totals.

Perez’s TDD is solid, stopping all 8 of Stamann’s attempts. He has also shown he can go offensive and pick up a key takedown when needed.

Utilizing heavy hooks, Yadong moves forward with constant pressure and power. He throws everything hard, but has finished just 4 opponents by knockout. His output was decent in his last fight, but the totals were close. He utilized a couple of takedowns to help secure key points.

It is worth noting that other than his second UFC fight which was in Singapore, Yadong has never fought outside fo China. The East to West travel and uncertainty of fighting in a new place could impact Song.

Perez tends to be in close fights, win or lose. Against a more aggressive striker like Song, his countering attack will need to be on point. That being said, the constant forward motion of Song will weight heavily with the judges and he also throws the more impactful offense. Unless Song’s performance is hampered by the travel factor, he should find success winning the majority of the exchanges against Alejandro- my prediction is Song Yadong to defeat Alejandro Perez by decision.

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185lbs- Jack Marshman (23-8-0) vs Edmen Shahbazyan (9-0-0)

The final fight of the undercard features the streaking Edmen “Golden Boy” Shahbazyan putting his undefeated mark on the line against the Welsh Middleweight Jack “Hammer” Marshman. Shahbazyan is 2-0 inside the Octagon, besting Darren Stewart and more recently TKOing Charles Byrd. Marshman is coming off a narrow decision win over John Phillips to end a 2-fight losing skid.

Edmen is the taller man by 2-inches and will have a 1″ reach advantage. Shahbazyan is the younger man by 9-years.

Marshman can be an entertaining brawler when he is able to find a willing opponent. He has finished 13 opponents by knockout but has gone the distance in 2 of his 3 UFC wins.

In similar fashion, Shahbazyan has finished all of his opponents by knockout in the opening frame with the exception of 1.

The key to this fight will be Shahbazyan’s wrestling. He leaned heavily on his ability to clinch and drag Stewart to the floor and he should look to do the same against Jack.

Marshman is tough but flawed and Shahbazyan offers the type of skill set capable of exploiting Jack’s issues. If Marshman can drag him into a brawl, Edmen could fade and get finished. Instead, Shahbazyan will spend the majority of the fight in top position, controlling Jack and nullifying his offense- my prediction is Edmen Shahbazyan to defeat Jack Marshman by decision.

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170lbs- Ismail Naurdiev (18-2-0) vs Chance Rencountre (13-3-0)

Fresh of their respective first UFC triumphs, the “Austrian Wonderboy” Ismail Naurdiev takes on Chance “Black Eagle” Rencountre in the Welterweight division. Naurdiev shocked many with an upset win over Michel Prazeres in his UFC debut. Rencountre made good on his sophomore appearance with a submission victory over Kyle Stewart.

Rencountre is the taller man by 4-inches, but he will have just a slight 1″ reach advantage. Naurdiev is 10-years younger.

Naurdiev put together an impressive stat line against Prazeres, giving up a trio of takedowns but outlanding him by a wide margin on the feet (63-15).

He offers a capable and dangerous kicking attacking, working his opponent up and down the body with find ending potential.

Rencountre has done some good work on the mat in recent fights, securing his last 3 victories all by submission. His ability to take Naurdiev down will be his key to victory.

“The Austrian Wonderbody” did a solid job of defending takedowns in the later stages of his debut, once his foe began to slow down. Rencountre has shown he can fight deeper into bouts and his size advantage could be a factor here as well.

Naurdiev has had issues with pressure based fighters on the regional scene. If he can force Chance to stay vertical, the Austrian should walk away with this fight. Conversely, Rencountre’s top game and submission skills offer the type of offense that Ismail has struggled with. Look for Rencountre to push forward, tie up Naurdiev and drag him to the floor, once on the mat, Chance will start sub hunting- my prediction is Chance Rencountre to defeat Ismail Naurdiev by submission.

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135lbs- Julia Avila (5-1-0) vs Pannie Kianzad (11-4-0)

The first fight of the night features the debut of Julia Avila as she takes on TUF 28 Featherweight finalist Pannie Kianzad in the Bantamweight division. Avila went 1-1 in Invicta with her only loss coming due to injury- she also holds wins over Nicco Montano and Marion Reneau. Kianzad was finished in the TUF tournament finals by Macy Chiasson, but returned to the regional scene to score a decision win last May.

Both girls are 5’7″, but Avila will have a 2″ reach advantage. Kianzad is the younger fighter by 3-years and is stepping in on roughly 2 weeks notice.

Avila is aggressive, owning a pair of wins inside the first 90-seconds of the fight. In her final Invicta FC bout, she hammered her foe with short range punching and barrages and non-stop pressure.

Despite 3 of her 5 wins ending inside the distance, Avila did show she can fight deep with her 2017 5-round decision win over Montano.

Kianzad offers a pretty solid striking attack, building around a decent jab and kicking offense. She has finished a trio of opponents by knockout and is 8-1 on the scorecards.

Her downfall against Chiasson came on the mat- she has been subbed twice in her career.

Pannie is coming in on short notice and has had issues with making weight. Avila’s aggression could serve to exploit the impact of a late notice fight and potential tough weight cut. Conversely, Avila’s aggression can lead her to be a little reckless and her output dropped off in the 2nd round of her last fight. Beyond the striking aspect, Kianzad has shown she can wrestle which could serve as a nice counter to the forward flow of Julia. Look for Avila to come out strong, but Pannie will endure the early attack and take the fight over with more technical striking and her takedowns- my prediction is Pannie Kianzad to defeat Julia Avila by decision.

UFC on ESPN 3

135lbs- Ricardo Ramos (12-2-0) vs Journey Newson (7-1-0)

The final fight of the undercard sees the debut of Journey Newson against the dangerous Brazilian Ricardo Ramos in the Bantamweight division. Newson is riding a 4-fight winning streak after suffering the first loss of his career, a TKO defeat to Benito Lopez. Ramos entered the promotion with a trio of victories before running afoul of Said Nurmagomedov who won by opening-round TKO.

Ramos is the taller man by an inch and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 6-years. Newson is replacing Sergio Pettis on less than 2-weeks notice.

The Brazilian is exceptionally aggressive and capable of finishing both on the mat and the feet. Ramos has finished 9 of his 12 wins- 6 by submission. He has been outlanded in 3 of his 4 fights and has slowed down in longer contests.

Newson hasn’t fought in 16-months and is coming off his first decision win since early 2016. He has just a single win in the opening round. There is limited footage available on Newson, but his last 3 opponents are a combined 14-26.

Newson is debuting on short notice after an above average layoff and facing the best opponent of his career. That is a lot to overcome. The aggression of Ramos opens himself up to either getting caught or slowing down as the fight goes long, but it could also serve as too much too soon for the newcomer. Ramos benefits from a renewed focus following his first UFC defeat, working together with the periodic takedown with a superior offensive attack- my prediction is Ricardo Ramos to defeat Journey Newson by decision.

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205lbs- Eryk Anders (11-4-0) vs Vinicius Moreira (9-2-0)

The early May withdrawal of Roman Dolidze opened the door for Eryk Anders to return to action as he takes on Brazil’s Vinicius Moreira in the Light Heavyweight division. Anders has struggled at 205-pounds, compiling and 0-3 record that includes a contentious split decision loss to Elias Theodorou. Moreira couldn’t capitalize on a Tuesday Night Contenders victory, falling via first frame knockout to Alonzo Menifield.

Moreira stands a sizeable 6’4″, 3 inches taller than the former Middleweight. He will have 1″ reach advantage and is the younger man by 2-years.

A BJJ practitioner, Moreira’s showed a lot of heart in his final pre-UFC contest. He took some significant damage early from a superior striker before rallying for a 2nd round submission finish- 8 of 9 wins by knockout. He was unable to pull off the same feat in his UFC debut and got finished early.

Anders showcased his power early in his MMA career, but has failed to do so later in his run. Further to his struggles, his striking hasn’t developed beyond a willingness to stand and bang. He has shown a willingness to look for takedowns, but he will want to avoid hitting the mat here.

The American is the better athlete and should have a wide advantage on the feet against the sluggish striking offense of Vinicius. If Moreira can take him down, he has the skills to submit the former Collegiate Football player, but his wrestling has looked well below-par. Anders should find success on the feet at his foe presses forward looking to lock up- my prediction is Eryk Anders to defeat Vinicius Moreira by TKO.

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155lbs- Jared Gordon (14-3-0) vs Dan Moret (13-5-0)

In the Lightweight division, Jared “Flash” Gordon takes on Minnesota-native Dan “The Hitman” Moret. Moret is 0-2 since coming to the UFC, most recently falling to Alex White by decision. Gordon started his UFC tenure with a pair of wins, but has since suffered back to back knockout losses.

Moret is the taller man by 3-inches to go along with a 5-inch reach advantage. Gordon is the younger man by 2-years.

Gordon is a high-paced fighter, but his last 2 defeats have suggested that he is unable to absorb the high levels of damage that come with that approach.  He has surpassed the century-mark in significant strikes twice, but got hurt and finished in his last fight.

The numbers suggest that Moret lacks finishing power, recording just a single win by knockout. He has 8 wins by submission, but he has given up 4 takedowns over 2 fights and has been unable to find much success off his back.

Gordon’s result at Lightweight have been mixed, but this appears to be an ideal matchup for him. Moret is fighting at home, but unless he can find some unexpected success with his takedowns or score just the second knockout win of his career, he will struggle to match the offense of “Flash”. Gordon will land a couple of takedowns mixed in with high volume striking, eventually wearing his foe out- my prediction is Jared Gordon to defeat Dan Moret by TKO.

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205lbs- Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1-0) vs Dequan Townsend (18-7-0)

The first of a trio of Light Heavyweight bouts on the card will feature a pair of promotional debutants as South Africa’s Dalcha Lungiambula battles American Dequan Townsend. Towsend has won 4 fights in a row including a victory over UFC-vet Hector Urbina, but he fought just once in early 2018. Lungiambula is currently riding a 5-fight winning streak after suffering the first and only loss of his career.

Townsend is replacing Justin Ledet with just a week to prepare for the fight. He has fought at both 170 and 185-pounds so making weight shouldn’t be an issue. Lungiambula stands just 5’8″ compared to Townsend at 6’3″. Towsend will also have a 3″ reach advantage.

Both fighters are returning off above average layoffs; Lungiambula has been out for a year while Townsend hasn’t competed in 16-months.

Lungiambula has had some championship experience both at Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight. He is coming off a 5-round split decision win. EFC Champion has finished 4 opponents via knockout and is 4-0 on the cards.

Offering a finish heavy record, Townsend has won 12-times by knockout with 15 of his 18 wins ending inside the opening round. Conversely, he is 3-6 in decisions.

Both men are debuting, coming off long layoffs, and Townsend is fighting on very short notice. Lungiambula is an undersized LHW, but Townsend is far from a big man himself. Recent trends have favoured the fighter moving up and/or cutting less weight. Lungiambula is a heavily muscled fighter and has had some cardio issues. If he can’t get Townsend out of there earlier, most likely with his ground game, the American should be able to take this fight over- my prediction is Dequan Townsend to defeat Dalcha Lungiambula by TKO.

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115lbs- Emily Whitmire (4-2-0) vs Amanda Ribas (6-1-0)

Looking to build on her current success, Emily Whitmire welcomes the debuting Amanda Ribas to the UFC’s Strawweight division. Whitmire scored a dominant submission win over Aleksandra Albu in his last fight to improved to 2-1 in the promotion. Ribas is debuting after rebounding from her first career loss- a knockout defeat to Polyana Viana.

Whitmire made the cut to 115-pounds in her last fight and the results were positive. She is the taller fighter by 2-inches, but she will give up 3 inches of reach. Ribas is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Ribas hasn’t fought in over 3-years adding to the potential difficult nature of her debut. She sat out after a failed drug test. She has finished 5 of her 6 pro wins- 4 in the opening round.

The American is building a well-rounded attack and the cut down to face smaller opponents has further magnified her skills. Despite a pair of submission defeats, she showcased a solid ground game against Albu and quickly tapped her out.

Ribas is facing a multitude of tough scenarios to overcome in this fight. Further to that, Whitmire’s ability to put her on her back and start sub hunting will prevent the Brazilian from loosening up on the feet. Emily will continue to showcased improved striking early, but she will eventually take this fight to the ground- my prediction is Emily Whitmire to defeat Amanda Ribas by submission.

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265lbs- Maurice Greene (7-2-0) vs Junior Albini (14-5-0)

The first foray of the night will feature a Heavyweight title between Maurice “The Crochet Boss” Greene and Brazil’s Junior Albini. Greene is coming off of a split decision rematch victory over Jeff Hughes to improve to 2-0 in the UFC. Albini was last seen falling by middle round TKO to Jairzinho Rozenstruick for his 3rd straight defeat.

At 6’7″, Greene stands a full 4-inches taller than Albini to go along with a 6″ reach advantage. Albini should be the heavier man by roughly 5 to 10 pounds and is 5-years younger.

Greene has looked decent, but his level of competition has been a bit of a question mark. His win over Hughes was narrow and Hughes was coming in on short notice.

While Albini has struggled, he has faced a former World Champ, an experienced and talented grappler, and a very good kickboxer.

The Brazilian has dropped a trio of fights. This will put an added level of desperation in his performance to go along with a step back in competition.

Look for Albini to come out strong, working inside the reach of Greene with a more aggressive attack compared to recent outings. Greene’s cardio is far from perfect and this will show up if this bout goes beyond the first half of the fight. Greene’s chin has never been cracked in the pro ranks, but my prediction is Junior Albini to defeat Maurice Greene by TKO.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 154

145lbs- Dan Ige (11-2-0) vs Kevin Aguilar (16-1-0)

In the final fight of the undercard, Dan Ige makes a quick turnaround from his 3rd straight UFC win when he takes on “The Angel of Death” Kevin Aguilar. Aguilar is 2-0 in the UFC with wins over Rick Glenn and Enrique Barzola- he has won 9 in a row. Ige debuted with a loss to Julio Arce, but he has since won 3 in a row.

Both fighters are 5’7″, but Aguilar will have a 2″ reach advantage. Ige is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Ige has put together a pair of quick victories, submitting one opponent and knocking out another inside the first 90-seconds of the bout. He comes from a BJJ background and has submitted his foe in 5 of his 8 stoppage wins.

Ige has completed 5 takedowns over his 3 wins, but he went just 1 for 13 in his debut defeat.

While Aguilar entered the promotion with 10 knockout victories, he has yet to showcase the finishing touch in the UFC. He went the distance in both his wins, but batter his opponents in both fights.

“The Angel of Death” had some issues with his TDD on the regional scene but he has stopped all 12 combined attempts from his 2 opponents- including 8 from Barzola.

Ige is a capable striker, but he needs to find success with his grappling in this bout. If he can take Kevin to the mat, he will negate his biggest strength. If Aguilar can stay vertical, his jab and power advantage will give him the edge on the feet. Ige struggled against Julio Arce in his debut and is facing a similarly capable fighter in Aguilar. Look for Aguilar to defend a few early TDAs while the impact of his striking starts to wear on Ige- my prediction is Kevin Aguilar to defeat Dan Ige by decision.

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155lbs- Matt Wiman (16-7-0) vs Luis Pena (6-1-0)

The unexpected return of Matt Wiman sees him paired with recent TUF graduate Luis “Violent Bob Ross” Pena in Lightweight division. Wiman hasn’t fought since 2014 and while he has 16 UFC fights on his record, only 1 of them came against an opponent still on the current roster- a 2008 loss versus Jim Miller. Pena is 2-1 inside the Octagon, most recently besting Steven Peterson by decision.

Pena is returning to Lightweight after struggling to make weight in his last contest. He is 5 inches taller than Wiman and will have an 8-inch reach advantage. Wiman is the older man by 10-years.

Wiman’s return comes almost 5-years after his last UFC fight. He has not fought since. By comparison, Pena made his pro debut almost 2-years after Wiman last fought.

During his time in the UFC, Wiman utilized a pressure-based attack- constantly engaging and pushing his foe with a combination of striking and wrestling.

Pena has been taken down in fights, but his defensive work is improving. His sizeable reach advantage should give him the edge on the feet and create submission attempts if he can scramble his way to a superior position once on the ground.

It is hard to back Wiman after such a long layoff. Pena is a developing fighter and will most likely benefit from not cutting to Featherweight. If Wiman can find a quick return to form, he has the skills to make this contest interesting. Unfortunately, he is in a tough spot against a dangerous opponent. Pena’s length and the more diversified offense will get the better of Wiman- my prediction is Luiz Pena to defeat Chris Wiman by TKO.

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265lbs- Allen Crowder (10-3-0 1NC) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (7-0-0)

Looking to climb the ranks at Heavyweight, Allen “Pretty Boy” Crowder takes on Suriname native Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Rozenstruik is coming off of a successful UFC debut, knocking out Junior Albini early in round 2 to maintain his perfect record. Crowder faltered in his own debut against Justin Willis, but put up an admirable fight against the heavily favoured Greg Hardy in an eventual DQ victory.

Crowder, the younger man by a year, is the taller by an inch, but Rozenstruik will have a 2″ reach advantage.

Against Hardy, Crowder attempted to diffuse the striking of the former NFLer with his wrestling and will most likely utilize a similar approach here.

Rozenstruik defended 4 of 6 TDAs against Albini.

Building on a successful kickboxing career, Rozenstruik has knocked out 6 of his 7 opponents. Conversely, Crowder has been finished via strikes on 3 occasions including being on the wrong end of the only Justin Willis UFC stoppage win.

Rozenstruik struggled early in his debut, but survived and scored the finish. He needs to stay vertical here and prevent Crowder from establishing his takedown game. Even if Allen gets on top, unless he puts his foe away- he tends to fade in longer fights making later takedowns less likely. Look for Jairzinho to keep Crowder at the end of his strikes and eventually land the knockout blow- my prediction is Jairzinho Rozenstruik to defeat Allen Crowder by knockout.

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125lbs- Ariane Lipski (11-4-0) vs Molly McCann (8-2-0)

Fresh off her first Octagon win, “Meatball” Molly McCann meets the “Violence Queen” Ariane Lipski in the Women’s Flyweight division. Lipski dropped a decision to Joanne Calderwood in her debut, ending an impressive 9-fight winning streak. McCann fell via submission in her debut but rebounded with a decision victory over Priscila Cachoeira in her next outing.

Lipski is 2-inches taller and 4-years younger.

McCann is primarily a striker and showed decent finishing skills on the regional scene. Where she struggled in her debut was with her defensive grappling. She was taken down on multiple occasions and eventually submitted.

The Brit showcased an improved grappling attack against Cachoeira, coming close to finishing the fight on the floor.

In a similar fashion, Lipski struggled when Calderwood looked to take her down. Prior to her debut, she relied on a strong kickboxing attack while mixing in some well-timed takedowns.

Lipski has secured 6 wins by knockout.

Both girls will thrive against an opponent who focuses on a striking based attack. That being said, the winner of this fight could be the one that more successful integrates a grappling element to their offense. Lipski showed on the regional scene that she can operate on the mat and does have a couple of sub wins. Molly had issues with Cachoeira’s power and Lipski should have the edge there- Ariane will offer a more active and impactful vertical offense and potentially work in a takedown to score key points- my prediction is Ariane Lipski to defeat Molly McCann by decision.

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185lbs- Deron Winn (7-1-0) vs Eric Spicely (12-4-0)

In a fight modified by injury on multiple occasions, Deron Winn makes his UFC debut against the returning Eric Spicely. Winn is coming off a late 2018 victory over UFC vet Tom Lawlor. Spicely went 2-4 in the UFC before 2-0 run on the regional scene got him the call back to the big show.

Despite standing just 5’7″, White has previously fought at 205. He is 3-years younger than Spicely who is fighting on less than a week’s notice.

Spicely does his best work on the mat, dragging his foe into a grappling contest and setting up his submissions skills. He has 6 wins by submission.

He was also stopped in all 4 of his UFC defeats; split evenly by subs and knockouts.

Prior to going the distance with Lawlor, Winn had secure 4 consecutive first-round knockouts. His longest fight lasted to the 2:23 mark.

Winn comes from a strong wrestling background and trains alongside Daniel Cormier. He hits hard and did some damage against Lawlor despite a slowdown later in the contest.

Spicely has struggled when he can’t get his opponent to the floor and he will struggle to do so here. The combination of Winn’s low stature and strong wrestling pedigree will allow him to dictate where the fight goes. He should have the edge on the feet with Spicely questionable durability and minimal prep time catching up to him- my prediction is Derron Winn to defeat Eric Spicely by TKO.

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135lbs- Andre Ewell (13-5-0) vs Anderson Dos Santos (20-7-0)

The opening fight of the night features Andre “Mr. Highlight” Ewell taking on the UFC sophomore Anderson Dos Santos in the Bantamweight division. After a split decision win over former Champion Renan Barao, Ewell lost via submission to Nathaniel Wood in his last outing. Dos Santos was unsuccessful in his debut with a decision loss to Nad Narimani last November.

At 5’11”, Ewell is 4 inches taller than ADS to go along with a sizeable 7″ reach advantage. Ewell is the younger fighter by 3-years. Dos Santos debuted at 145-pounds

Ewell struggled with the ground attack of Wood and had some issue with Barao on the floor. Dos Santos attempted just a single takedown in his debut, but on the regional scene he was much more active on the floor.

The Brazilian has recorded 11 wins by sub while Ewell has been subbed on 3 occasions.

Ewell will need to keep this fight standing. His above average length and striking skills give him a noteworthy advantage over a fighter known for his poor striking defense.

Dos Santos has been stopped 3-times by knockout.

Ewell’s defensive wrestling is a major concern, but only if Dos Santos can get inside of his massive reach/length advantage. Look for Ewell to utilize his length to keep his foe on the outside, peppering him with offense as he tries to move forward. Once, Ewell starts to land with regularity look for the Brazilian to wilt- my prediction is Andre Ewell to defeat Anderson Dos Santos by TKO.

UFC 238

115lbs- #2 Tatiana Suarez (7-0-0) vs #3 Nina Ansaroff (10-5-0)

The headlining fight of the undercard will most likely determine the next title contender as Tatiana Suarez takes on Nina Ansaroff. The undefeated Suarez stopped former champion, Carla Esparza, last time out and is 4-0 in the UFC. After an 0-2 start to her UFC tenure, Ansaroff has turned her career around with a 4-pack of wins including an upset of former title challenger Claudia Gadelha.

Both are 5’5″, but Suarez will have a 2″ reach advantage. She is also the younger fighter by 5-years.

Suarez’s success has been the result of a dominant wrestling attack. Against a capable wrestler in Esparza, Tatiana mauled her on the floor with 9 takedowns and an eventual GNP stoppage.

The success of Ansaroff has come largely due to her striking skills. She offers a varied striking offense with good volume. She has landed more strikes than all of her opponents, including in each of her first 2 Octagon defeats.

Nina is coming off a fight against a capable ground fighter in Gadelha where she shut down 8 of 10 TDAs.

Suarez hasn’t had to showcase much of her striking, completing 81% of her takedowns and 18 takedowns over 4 bouts.

The victory scenario is pretty blatant for this pairing. Ansaroff has to stay off her back. If she does, she has the striking skills to pull off the upset. That is a difficult task to accomplish. Suarez has taken down better grapplers and Nina, while better lately- has proven vulnerable to a ground-centric attack. Look for Suarez to simply overwhelm her with top pressure in pursuit of a title shot- my prediction is Tatiana Suarez to defeat Nina Ansaroff by submission.

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135lbs- #3 Aljamain Sterling (17-3-0) vs #4 Pedro Munhoz (18-3-0 1NC)

Bantamweight title contenders Aljamain Sterling and Pedro Munhoz enter this bout potentially just a single win away from challenging for the title. Sterling has won 3 in a row and 5 of 6 including a wide decision over Jimmie Rivera. Munhoz scored a brutal KO win over former Champion Cody Garbrandt to extend his winning streak to 3 in a row- he is 7-1 over his last 8.

Sterling is an inch taller, but he will have a marked 6″ reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by 3-years.

Munhoz further established himself as a multi-faceted threat. He is well known for his dangerous submission game- highlighted by a nasty guillotine. He creates sub opportunities through his vertical pressure forcing his opponent to panic wrestling shoot.

Against, Garbrandt he traded on the feet attempting to overwhelm Cody, but the Brazilian was able to score the knockout before need to look for a sub.

Sterling has also showcased his improved depth. Against Rivera, he focussed entirely on his vertical output and put together a complete striking performance.

In previous bouts, Sterling has leaned heavily on his takedowns and ability to maintain top control. Aljamain also offers a pretty solid submission game. While Munhoz utilizes speed to secure his subs, Sterling is more apt to focus on controlling his foe before going for the finish.

If Pedro can close the gap with regularity, he has the power to hurt Sterling. For Sterling, his reach, improved jab, and kicking arsenal will be the keys to mitigating the pressure and keeping his Brazilian foe on the outside. Munhoz will be forced to chase Sterling for the majority of the fight, struggling to find his range. Sterling’s counters and an uptick in aggression will hold up well with the judges- my prediction is Aljaman Sterling to defeat Pedro Munhoz by decision.

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115lbs- #10 Karolina Kowalkiewicz(13-4-0) vs #13 Alexa Grasso (10-2-0)

Former Strawweight title challenger Karolina Kowalkievwicz will attempt to snap a 2-fight skid when she meets Mexico’s Alexa Grasso. Grasso is coming off a submission loss to top contender Tatiana Suarez and is now 2-2 in the UFC. Kowalkiewicz lost a decision to Michelle Waterson and was brutally KOed by the newly minted champion Jessica Andrade.

Grasso is 2 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. She is also the younger fighter by 8-years, although she has not competed in roughly 13-months.

The Mexican comes from a boxing background and the majority of her MMA success has come down to her TDD. She gave up a combined 4 takedowns in her 2 UFC defeats and narrowly edge out a split decision against Randa Markos despite giving up 4 TDs.

In a similar fashion, Karolina has had the majority of her success on the feet. She offers a strong striking repertoire and has a tendency to get stronger as the fight advances. She has eclipsed 100 significant strikes landed mark in 3 of her 5 UFC wins.

Grasso has decent pop in her strikes and can string together her combination effectively. Conversely, she has appeared hesitant once the potential for takedowns has appeared.

For Kowalkiewicz, she has a tendency to get off to a slow start and then rally. Against Waterson, she struggled to find much consistency in her attack never got going.

The layoff and lack of activity could impact the performance of Grasso, especially for a fighter that has struggled at times to offer consistent output. For Kowalkiewicz, her back is against the wall at 0-2 and that should lead to an increased sense of urgency. Karolina should recognize the impact that the threat of the TDs has had on Alexa and opt to shoot at some point. Look for the superior volume of the Polish fighter to play a role as the fight advances- my prediction is Karolina Kowalkiewicz to defeat Alexa Grasso by decision.

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145lbs- #10 Ricardo Lamas (19-7-0) vs Clavin Kattar (19-3-0)

In the Featherweight division, former title challenge Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas takes on Massachusettes-native Clavin Kattar. Kattar scored a stoppage win over Chris Fishgold following his decision loss to Renato Moicano- he has lost just 1 of his 4 Octagon outings. Lamas smashed Darren Elkins with a late round TKO to end a 2-fight skid- he has won 3 of 5.

Lamas is 6-years older than Kattar. Calvin is the taller man by 3-inches and will have a 1″ reach advantage.

“The Bully” offers a strong kicking arsenal and serviceable jab to build his striking attack around. That being said, he does his best work on the mat with his top position ground and pound or opportunistic submission game.

Kattar relies heavily on his striking offense, work in and out of boxing range. His power is decent, resulting in a couple of recent stoppages. Where he struggled against Moicano was in finding his range. Unable to land with consistency, Kattar struggled to match the Brazilian’s output.

Giving up just a single TD over 4 UFC bouts, Kattar’s TDD will be tested here.

Lamas is a solid wrestler, but at times his inability to score takedowns has limited his best offensive weapons.

The volume of Ricardo has failed him at times resulting in close decisions losses. Kattar has shown he can put up some decent volume numbers and if he can stay vertical, it will remove one of Lamas’ most dangerous attributes. Lamas’ durability is also a major question mark and this is Kattar’s opportunity to take the next step- my prediction is Calvin Kattar to defeat Ricardo Lamas by decision.

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115lbs- #12 Yan Xiaonan (9-1-0 1NC) vs Angela Hill (8-6-0)

In the final fight of the early prelims, China’s Yan Xiaonan takes on former Invicta FC Champion Angela “Overkill” Hill in the Strawweight division. Xiaonan is 3-0 in the UFC with a win over Yuri Kondo in her most recent outing. Hill took a decision over Jodie Esquibel in late April to end a 2-fight losing skid.

Hill is replacing Felice Herrig with just over a month to prepare. Yan is the taller fighter by 2 inches, but Hill will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Xiaonan is 4 years younger.

This fight stands to be a high volume onslaught on both sides. Yan is coming off a 150 strike performance and Hill has surpassed the century mark in 4 of her last 5 outings. Angela has also given up over 100 strikes on 3 occasions- losing each fight.

Despite fighting a full 9-rounds, Xiaonan finished the majority of her fights on the regional scene. As a result, she had limited experience in longer fights and has experienced some slowdowns in the later rounds.

Hill has struggled in close fights and lacks significant stopping power. She is 6-4 on the cards and 1-1 in decisions.

Both girls are willing to trade high volume barrages, so this bout could come down to who absorbs less. Hill defense appears to be a little more open and Yan also has the edge in power. The biggest concern for Yan is that she tires in the last round, but her constant forward pressure and Hill’s willingness to backtrack will weigh in Xiaonan’s favour- my prediction is Yan Xiaonan to defeat Angela Hill by decision.

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185lbs- Bevon Lewis (5-1-0) vs Darren Stewart (9-4-0 1NC)

In a fight featuring a pair of Middleweights looking to rebound from defeat, Bevon Lewis makes his sophomore appearance opposed Darren “The Dentist” Stewart. Lewis looked good for 2 rounds but suffered a 3rd round knockout defeat to Uriah Hall- the first loss of his young career. Stewart found some traction with back to back bouts, fell via decision to Edmen Shahbazyan.

Lewis is 3 inches taller than Stewart and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Stewart is the older man by 1-year.

Stewart never got out of the starting gates against Shabazyan and when he did have an opening for a late rally, he failed to get the finish.

He does have power, finishing 7 of his 9 pro wins by knockout.

Despite the loss, Lewis looked good early but noticeably started to slow in the final frame and suffered a brutal knockout. The finish raises concerns against a heavy hitter like Stewart.

He stayed active on the feet throughout the first 2 rounds and is known for his clinch-based attack. Lewis trains alongside Jon Jones and some similarities between the 2 fighters is evident.

One area that Stewart has struggled with has been in his grappling defense. He gave up 8 takedowns in his most recent outing. He has shown limited ability to deal with a grappling/wrestling beyond simply holding on and hoping for a standup.

Lewis’ loss to Hall came largely because he was unable to maintain his performance in the final frame. Stewart’s success in the UFC has been based on his ability to rally from rough starts and finish his foe. If Lewis has another late letdown, Stewart is capable of capitalizing. Instead, look for Bevon to learn from his debut and combined his wrestling, clinch offense, and more active striking front over the duration- my prediction is Bevon Lewis to defeat Darren Stewart by decision.

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135lbs- Eddie Wineland (23-13-1) vs Grigory Popov (13-1-0)

Former WEC Champion and UFC title challenger Eddie Wineland returns to action when he battles the debuting Grigory Popv in the Bantamweight division. Wineland has lost back to back fights after seeing his 2-fight winning streak come to an end. Popov was torn through 9 straights opponents since suffering the first and only loss of his career.

Both men are 5’7″, but Wineland will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Wineland has not fought in roughly 11-months.

Wineland’s strengths are his unorthodox striking and solid TDD. He has won by knockout in 6 of his last 7 victories with his only other win to come by split decision.

Eddie’s striking is dangerous, but his willingness to hang his hands and rely on his head movement has led to some recent knockout defeats and a heighten knockout total.

The debuting Russian has finished 4 opponents by knockout, 3 by submission and is a perfect 6-0 on the cards. His last 3 opponents are a dismal 5-8 and he has faced just 2 opponents with an above .500 record over his last 10 opponents.

Based in Muay Thai, Popov is coming off a TKO victory that came as a result of battering his opponent’s leg as he laid on the mat. He throws hard, but is defensively vulnerable.

Wineland’s style can be exploited, but it is also quite difficult to adjust to. The low level of competition is concerning for Popov and Wineland has the skills to exploit the defensive lapses in the debutant’s defense. The key for Wineland is to be aggressive without exposing himself- my prediction is Eddie Wineland to defeat Grigory Popov by TKO.

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125lbs- #2 Katlyn Chookagian (11-2-0) vs #6 Joanne Calderwood (13-3-0)

The opening fight of the night features a pair of competitors attempting to position themselves as the next title contender in the Women’s Flyweight division as Katlyn Chookagian takes on Joanne Calderwood. Chookagian is coming off of a narrow split-decision loss to current title challenger Jessica Eye. Calderwood has won back to back fights since making the move up in weight.

Chookagian is the taller fighter by 3 inches to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Chook is also 3 years younger than JoJo.

Building her offense around volume striking has been the key for Katlyn. The issue with this approach has been her lack of overall connection. Despite maintaining a high work rate, Chook often comes up short with her techniques.

Calderwood, based in Muay Thai, has proven herself more dangerous on the feet; finishing 5 opponents by knockout.

Where JoJo has found increasing success has been with her grappling skills. On multiple occasions, she has authored multiple takedowns that have equated to points scored in crucial moments. She also recently picked up her first career submission win.

When faced with an opponent looking to clinch and/or drag the fight to the floor- Chookagian has had some issues.

Calderwood has struggled at times with her inability to let her hands go. In this fight, she should be the more impactful striker if she maintains a consistent offensive output. As previously mentioned, Chookagian has had issues against opponents that mix in takedowns and Calderwood’s best performance have often including having success on the mat. Look for Calderwood to press forward, land the better strikes and scores some crucial top control time- my prediction is Joanne Calderwood to defeat Katlyn Chookagian by decision.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 153

170lbs- Rostem Akman (5-0-0) vs Sergey Khandozhko (25-5-1)

The final fight of the undercard features two debuting Welterweights as Sweden’s Rostem Akman meets Russian-born Sergey Khandozhko. Akman is coming off a May 11th victory to maintain his undefeated record. Khandozhko started his pro career with a strong run, but has since gone just 5-4 including back to back wins in his most recent outings.

Akman is replacing Bartosz Fabinski with roughly a week to prepare. He will be making a quick 3-week turn around from his last fight. The Russian is 3 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage.

The Swede has finished all of his opponents, 4 by knockout, but just 1 in the opening round. Three in round 3. Only 1 of his last 3 adversaries had an above .500 record. He is at a massive experience advantage, but the quick turnaround could remove the potential for debut related stress.

The Russian packs a decent kicking arsenal and has recorded 10 wins by knockout. Khandozhko has also shown himself to be a capable ground fighter with 7 wins via submission. Conversely, he has struggled at times including a submission loss to UFC castoff Benny Alloway.

This is a difficult fight to accurately predict. Khandozhko has struggled with consistency and Akman is still in the early stages of his MMA career. While the Swede is fighting at home the short notice could be a big factor in this fight especially considering he is facing superior competition when compared to his recent opponents. Khandozhko is far from a guarantee, but he is in a better spot here- my prediction is Sergey Khandozhko to defeat Rostem Akman by decision.

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135lbs- #12 Tonya Evinger (19-7-0 1NC) vs #13 Lina Lansberg (8-3-0)

A pair of former Featherweight title challengers and Cyborg victims meet up in the Bantamweight division as Tonya Evinger battles Lina Lansberg. The former Invicta Bantamweight champion, Evinger is winless in 2 UFC bouts after an 11-fight undefeated streak dating back to 2011. Lansberg is 2-3 in the UFC and has alternated wins and losses over her last 6 fights.

Both girls are 5’7″, but Evinger will have a 5″ reach advantage. Lansberg is a year younger.

Lansberg’s tenure in the UFC has been characterized by narrow victories and wide defeats. She does decent work in the clinch, but at times has struggled with the activity rate and ground attack of her opponents.

Evinger hasn’t fared much better, getting smashed by both Cyborg and Aspen Ladd in a similar fashion to what Lansberg experienced. Her earlier success came as a result of her grinding wrestling ability to outwork her opponents.

Lansberg has struggled with opponents that can take her down and hold her there. Evinger fits that profile. The Swede will wear down if she spends too much time on her back and she has been broken. Evinger should try to avoid getting dragged into a brawl, but if she does, she should be able to hold her own on he feet- my prediction is Tonya Evinger to defeat Lina Lansberg by decision.

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155lbs- Stevie Ray (22-7-0) vs Leonardo Santos (16-4-1)

Scotland’s own “Braveheart” Stevie Ray will take on the returning Brazilian Leonardo Santos in the Lightweight division. Ray is coming off of a narrow decision win over Jessin Ayari to end a 2-fight losing skid- he is 6-3 in the promotion. Santos is an impressive 5-0-1 in the Octagon with wins over Kevin Lee and Tony Martin.

Due to various injuries, Santos has not competed in 31-months. The Brazilian is 2 inches taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Ray is the younger fighter by 10-years.

The key to this pairing is going to be the TDD of the Scot. Ray has struggled in fights when he was unable to stay vertical.

Santos is a 4th degree BJJ Black belt with 9 career wins by submission. Conversely, he has completed more than a single takedown in a fight just once.

Leonardo has shown he can hold his own on the feet if forced to compete there. If he puts Ray on the floor, Stevie will not find the same success in that area. Santos needs to shake off the rust early and find his comfort zone. Ray’s struggles with grappling heavy fighters is too much to overlook- my prediction is Leonardo Santos to defeat Stevie Ray by submission.

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155lbs- Nick Hein (14-4-0 1NC) vs Frank Camacho (21-7-0)

In the Lightweight division, Germany Nick Hein attempts to end a 2-fight losing skid as he takes on Frank “The Crank” Camacho. Hein won 4 of his first 5 UFC bouts before dropping contest to Damir Hadzovic and Davi Ramos. Camacho has put together an entertaining but largely unsuccessful UFC career- he is 1-3 inside the Octagon.

Camacho took this fight on less than 3 weeks notice and has spent some times at Welterweight. He is the taller man by 4 inches and will have a sizeable 7″ reach advantage. Hein is the younger man by 5-years.

An all-action fighter, Camacho has finished 15 opponents by knockout but is coming off his 4 career knockout defeat. He has yet to score a finish in the UFC.

Hein’s performances have been frustrating. Despite coming from a Judo background, he rarely looks for takedowns opting instead to stand and trade with mixed results. His output tends to trend the 30 to 50 significant strike range.

Camacho’s willingness to take a shot to land one is concerning. He will have a sizeable reach and height advantage which will help him to land on Hein first. Nick’s lack of volume is a major concern here. He often struggles to find his range and Camacho constant pressure and aggressive will put him behind on the cards. Unless Hein takes him down, look for Frank “The Crank” to be the more active and impactful fighter- my prediction is Frank Camacho to defeat Nick Hein by decision.

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135lbs- Bea Malecki (2-0-0) vs Duda Santanna (3-0-0)

In a battle of debuting Bantamweights, Sweden’s Bea Malecki takes on Brazilian-based Duda Santanna. With just 2 pro fights, Malecki has finished both of her opponents inside the opening round- she turned pro in 2017. Duda has a pair of decision wins with a TKO stoppage in the middle.

Malecki is the taller girl by 2 inches and will have a 1-inch reach advantage. Santana is the younger fighter by 5-years.

Malecki competed on the most recent season of The Ultimate fighter, bowing out in the first-round to Leah Letson. She comes from a kickboxing background so her combat experience outstrips what her MMA record would suggest.

Similarly, Santanna builds on a striking background. She throws hard and will string decent combinations together. Previous Visas issues prevented her from competing on the Contenders Series.

The 18-month break could impact Duda and home-field advantage will favour Malecki. Both girls still have a lot of room for development. Malecki might be the more accomplished striker, but Santanna’s aggression and volume will counter that. The Brazilian might also consider threatening with a takedown to both score points and throw Malecki off her rhythm. Santanna will simply offer more frequent and impactful offense- my prediction is {Body_1]Duda Santanna to defeat Bea Malecki by decision.[/Body_1]

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205lbs- Darko Stosic (13-1-0) vs Devin Clark (9-3-0)

The first of 4 Light Heavyweight scraps on the card features Devin Clark taking on Serbia Darko Stosic. Clark is coming off a knockout loss to Alexsandar Rakic to drop his UFC mark to 3-3. Stosic extended his winning streak to 9 straight with an opening round TKO win over Jeremy Kimball.

Both men are 6’0″, but Stosic will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 2-years.

Clark has done his best work with his striking on the outside before closing the gap to clinch and wrestle his opponent. That will be a key factor against Stosic.

The Serbian comes from a striking background, finishing 8 of his 13 wins by some form of knockout. He has finished 8 opponents in the opening round and his heavily muscled frame raises a lot of questions about his cardio.

If Clark can utilize his grinding wrestling/clinch based attack to force Stosic beyond round 1, this fight turns in his favours. The concern for the American lies with his striking defense and shaky chin. Clark leaves himself open both offensively and defensively and the crafty striking skills of Darko should be able to find the mark- my prediction is Darko Stosic to defeat Devin Clark by TKO.

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155lbs- Joel Alvarez (15-2-0) vs Danilo Belluardo (12-3-0)

A battle of representatives from lesser-known MMA nations features the debut of Italy’s Danilo Belluardo as he takes on UFC sophomore Joel Alvarez of Spain. Alvarez lost a decision in his debut against Damir Ismagulov- he had won 10 in a row. Belluardo has won 6 straight fights after a 1-3 skid that included a one and done run in Bellator versus A.J. McKee.

At 6’3″, Alvarez is a full 3 inches taller than his foe to go along with the same length reach advantage.

The Spaniard offers a submission heavy resume, recording 14 of his 15 wins by sub- stopping 10 opponents in round 1. Despite Alvarez’s ground-centric attack, he failed to complete or attempt a takedown in his debut.

With slightly more variety on his record, Belluardo has recorded 6 wins by knockout and 3 each by submission and decision. On the regional scene, his last 3 wins came over fighters with a combined record of 25-19.

Alvarez didn’t show much in his debut, but stylistically Belluardo is a better matchup for him. Look for Alvarez to be more aggressive moving forward and force Danilo to utilize his takedowns as a push back. Joel has an aggressive guard and will capitalize on his foe’s willingness to leave his neck exposed on the mat- my prediction is Joel Alvarez to defeat Danilo Belluardo by submission.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 152

145lbs- Megan Anderson (9-3-0) vs Felicia Spencer (6-0-0)

In a fight bumped to the main card, 2 members of the limited Women’s Featherweight division battle for a possible future shot at the title as Megan Anderson takes on the debuting Felicia Spencer. Anderson lost to Holly Holm in her UFC debut, but returned to the win column with an unconventional TKO win over Cat Zingano. Still undefeated, Spencer is debuting following a perfect 6-0 run under the Invicta banner where she has spent her entire pro career.

A towering 6’0″, Anderson will stand half a foot taller than Spencer to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. They are roughly the same age. It is worth noting that Spencer has fought at Lightweight in previous contests.

With Nunes currently prepping to defend her Bantamweight title, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of this division. Nonetheless, the winner of this fight could earn a future title shot.

Anderson won the interim-Invicta title in early 2017 and later was promoted to the Champion. Spencer snagged the title in late 2018 with a submission victory over Pam Sorenson.

In stark contrast, Anderson’s success has come largely on the feet with her heavy striking offense. Spencer, a BJJ Black belt has submitted 3 of her last 4 opponents.

Anderson struggled with the takedowns of the predominantly striking based Holm and against a more capable grappler that could be a major issue.

On the feet, Spencer can hold her own but her focus is on getting the action to the floor as soon as possible. The Canadian has a solid transition game and does a decent job of maintaining control and riding with her foe as she moves.

If Anderson can stay vertical and maintain distance, she should be able to strike her way to a win. Unfortunately, that will be difficult. She had almost no answer for Holm and Spencer is a far more dangerous grappler. Megan’s win over Zingano didn’t show much with regard to improved grappling defense. Spencer takes her down, works towards her back, and goes to work- my prediction is Felicia Spencer to defeat Megan Anderson by submission.

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145lbs- Michael Trizano (9-0-0) vs Grant Dawson (13-1-0)

With a combined record of 22-1, Ultimate Fighter winner Michael Trizano and UFC sophomore Grant Dawson will look to make the next step in towards contention in the Featherweight division. Trizano has remained undefeated despite a pair of close split decision wins over Luis Pena and Joe Giannetti. Dawson debuted with a dominant decision victory over Julian Erosa- his 4th consecutive victory.

Trizano is an inch taller, but Dawson will have a 1-inch reach advantage. Dawson is the younger fighter by a year. Trizano is moving back down to Featherweight after competing at Lightweight to start his UFC tenure.

In his debut, the Team Alpha Male member put his wrestling prowess on display. Dawson completed 6 of 11 takedowns against Erosa and spent the majority of the fight on top.

Over a pair of split-decisions, Trizano has spent some time on the mat, but overall he has utilized his striking skills to edge his opponents on the cards.

While Grant kept Erosa on his back, he did appear to slow down in the latter stages of the fight. He could have been impacted by Octagon jitters and/or a long layoff, but it was also the first time he fought beyond the 2nd round in his career.

A key aspect of Trizano’s offense has been his kicks- both to the legs and body, but against Dawson’s takedown centric offense he needs to be careful not to let them become takedown opportunities.

Trizano is the more complete striker, but he will need to stay vertical in order to capitalize on that edge. Look for Dawson to put together a better performance than in his debut. With both his debut and prolonged layoff behind him, Dawson will push forward, ground Trizano and maintain top control for long durations of this fight- my prediction is Grant Dawson to defeat Michael Trizano by decision.

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155lbs- Desmond Green (22-8-0) vs Charles Jourdain (9-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, former Bellator competitor Desmond “The Predator” Green welcomes Canadian Charles “Air” Jourdain to the UFC. Green has won 2 of his last 3 fights, finishing Ross Pearson by TKO last time out. Jourdain has won 4 in a row dating back to his first career loss in 2017.

Green is the taller man by an inch but will have a solid 4″ reach advantage. Jourdain is the younger man by 6-years.

Des is coming off his best performance in the UFC and his first finish since 2016. Jourdain has finished all of his opponents, including a fifth-round TKO last time out.

Finishing 6 of his 9 wins by knockout, Jourdain has a Muay Thai base. In his recent win over Alex Morgan, he scored with a well-executed spinning back fist before securing a submission win.

Almost all of Green’s defeats have been close, with “The Predator” simply not doing enough to get the nod. His striking is sound, but he does his best work when he can blend it with his wrestling.

The wresting of Green is a major concern for “Air” Jourdain. On the regional scene, he has struggled with takedown-centric opponents.

Even if he can stay vertical Green has faced more consistent strikers and held his own.

Green’s struggles have come against opponents that could equal or surpass his wrestling skills. That won’t be the case for Jourdain. Unless the Canadian has cleaned up his takedown defense, he will spend too much crucial time on his back. Des can do his own damage on the feet and overall he will score more points over 15-minutes- my prediction is Desmond Green to defeat Charles Jourdain by decision.

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205lbs- Patrick Cummins (10-5-0) vs Ed Herman (24-14-0 1NC)

A pair of Light Heavyweights on the outside of the ranks looking in collide as Patrick “Durkin” Cummins faces Ed “Short Fuse” Herman. Cummins has lost back to back fights to Corey Anderson and Misha Cirkunov- he is 3-5 in his last 8 fights. Herman bumped up to 205 and bested Tim Boetsch, but has since dropped a trio of outings including a split decision to Gian Villante.

Cummins is an inch taller than the former Middleweight but Herman will have a 1″ reach advantage. They are just a month apart in age.

Cummins has built his career around his wrestling. The former NCAA Division 1 wrestler has completed 29 takedowns over his 6 UFC wins.

He has landed just 5 takedowns over 6 defeats- 4 in his loss to Glover Teixeira.

A 22-fight UFC veteran, Herman has secured 13 wins by submission but his last came back in 2012.

Herman’s TDD ranks it at a respectable 60%, but CB Dollaway recently completed 6 in his decision win over “Short Fuse”.

The knock on Cummins has been his durability, with multiple fighters finishing him via strikes. His lack of improvement regarding his striking defense leaves him vulnerable on the feet against superior strikers.

If Herman can land flush, he has shown he can finish on the feet.

Ed will need to capitalize when he is vertical and that won’t be often. Cummins’ combination of grinding wrestling and size advantage will put Herman in some bad spots throughout this fight. Look for “Durkin” to ground Herman early, and smother him on the mat with his heavy top game. Herman will struggle to gain separation early and it will get more difficult as the fight advances- my prediction is Patrick Cummins to defeat Ed Herman by TKO.

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170lbs- Danny Roberts (16-4-0) vs Michel Pereira (21-9-0 2NC)

Brit Danny “Hot Chocolate” Roberts makes a quick turn around to battle UFC debutant Michel Pereira in the Welterweight division. Roberts is coming off a loss to Claudio Silva by submission, ending his 2 fight winning streak. Pereira has just a single win over his last 3 outings with a loss and No Contest mixed in- he went 4-1 with 2 NC in 2018.

Both men are 6’1″, Roberts will have an inch reach advantage while the Brazilian is the younger man by 6-years.

Roberts lost to Silva via controversial decision, but what was evident was his inability to avoid/negate the grappling skills of his foe. He has given up multiple takedowns on multiple occasions and while his sub skills are solid it is still a defensive liability.

Pereira owns a diversified record with 8 wins by knockout and 6 by sub. He has finished 11 opponents in the opening round but is a dismal 6-7 on the scorecards.

His last 3 wins have come over a trio of opponents with a 14-9 record, including one adversary with a record of 0-1.

The Brit is a capable boxer, but he has proven to be a bit chinny at times and that is a concern against the diversified and unpredictable striking offense of his Brazilian counterpart.

If Pereira can land early, he could certainly finish Roberts. Conversely, if Danny can avoid the early onslaught Pereira has a tendency to slow down after his early onslaught. Look for Roberts’ more conventional striking attack to hold up and he will mix in a couple of well-timed takedowns when needed. Roberts will take complete control once Pereira’s gas tank hits empty- my prediction is Danny Roberts to defeat Michel Pereira by TKO.

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185lbs- Zak Cummings (22-6-0) vs Trevin Giles (11-0-0)

Looking to continue his success in the Middleweight division, Zak Cummings takes on Trevin “The Problem” Giles. Cummings has won 3 of his last 4 fights, defeating Trevor Smith in his last fight. Giles has yet to taste defeat, defeating Antonio Braga Neto via KO at Fight Night 123.

Both men stand 6’0″, but Cummings will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Giles is the younger fighter by 8-years, but he has been out of action for 17-months.

Giles survived the early action on the mat with Neto before capitalizing on the Brazilian’s slowdown and scoring his 5th career win by knockout.

Cummings built his early success around his takedowns and submission skills. More recently he has focussed on remaining vertical and employing his counter striking offense.

In his debut, Giles scored 5 takedowns, but Net had success putting on the floor early. Cummings may look to return to his grappling base to negate the striking skills of Giles.

During his run at Welterweight, Cummings had issues making weight and the return to 185-pounds might allow him to be more active over the duration of a fight.

The layoff for Giles could lead to some ring rust, but it also might have provided him with time to continue to develop his game. Cummings is a tough and well-rounded veteran fighter. If Giles isn’t on-point, Cummings will capitalize. Giles looks to be the better athlete with the more capable striking offense. Unless Cummings turns this fight into a grind, Giles will get the better of the exchanges with impact and volume. My prediction is Trevin Giles to defeat Zak Cummings by decision

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145lbs- Julio Arce (15-3-0) vs Julian Erosa (22-8-0)

The opening fight of the night goes down in the Featherweight division as Tiger Schulmann product Julio Arce meets “Juicy J” Julian Erosa. Arce is coming off his first loss since 2016, he scored back to back wins to start his UFC run before his loss to Sheymon Moraes. Over a pair of UFC tenures, Erosa is a dismal 1-3 with his most recent defeat coming against Grant Dawson.

Erosa is 6 inches taller than his foe to go along with a 5″ reach advantage. They are the same age.

On the regional scene, “Juicy J” has compiled a solid 7-2 record between his time spent in the UFC. His struggles have been characterized by a willingness to exchange on the feet, but a lack of durability.

Julio comes from a kickboxing background but has secured just a trio of wins by knockout. Over his pair of UFC wins he has landed more strikes than his foe by roughly a 2-1 count.

With 10 knockouts and 9 submission wins, Erosa has shown he can finish. Conversely, he is 3-4 in decisions and has been knocked out 3-times which is a product of his lackluster defense.

Arce was hurt early against Moraes and spend the majority of the fight attempting to catch up after his foe pulled ahead early.

Erosa has yet to show he can win at this level. His inability to utilize his reach and height advantage couple with a willingness to stand and trade is concerning. Arce is the better striker and unless Erosa finds a way to ground him, Julio will get the better of the action on the feet. Erosa will engage with Julio but eventually succumb to Arce’s striking prowess- my prediction is Julio Arce to defeat Julian Erosa by TKO.

UFC 237

205lbs- Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (22-8-0) vs Ryan Spann (14-5-0)

The final fight on the undercard features the Pride alumni Antonio Rogerio Nogueira taking on promotional sophomore Ryan “Superman” Spann in the Light Heavyweight division. Spann debuted with a win over Luis Henrique by decision to extend his current winning streak to 5 straight wins. Nogueira returned to action with a knockout win over Sam Alvey- he has won 2 of his last 3 fights.

At 6’5″, Spann is 3 inches taller than “Lil Nog” to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Spann is 15-years younger than Nogueira.

Antonio has fought in Brazil in each of his last 4-fights, including a 2-1 record against foreign-born opponents. Spann is coming off of a successful trip to Brazil in his win over Henrique.

Of the Brazilian’s last 5 fights, 4 have ended by knockout- 2 wins and 2 losses. This is an indication that he is still dangerous, but he is equally as vulnerable to an opponent’s power.

Spann has finished the majority of his wins by submission (10 of 15) and is debut performance was indicative of that. The majority of his success came on the mat, both initiating grappling exchanges and countering his opponents’ attempts to take him down.

The American is coming off his first win since early 2015 that went beyond the opening round. He has suffered a pair of knockout defeats and is 1-3 in his last 4 bouts to last more than 5 minutes.

Physically Spann appears to hold all of the cards, but his lack of success outside of the opening round is concerning. Nogueira has proven vulnerable to takedowns, but only against the best of the division. If “Lil Nog” can force his foe beyond the opening round and keep him on the feet, the edges turn in his favour. Nogueira’s boxing remains dangerous and unless “Superman” can hurt or back Antonio up, he will struggle with his pressure- my prediction is Antonio Rogerio Nogueira to defeat Ryan Spann by TKO.

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155lbs- Thiago Moises (11-3-0) vs Kurt Holobaugh (17-6-0 1NC)

In the Lightweight division, Thiago Moises takes on American Kurt Holobaugh. Moises fell via decision to Beniel Dariush in his debut, ending a 2-fight winning streak. Holobaugh fell via submission to Shane Burgos to drop his 2 tenure UFC record fall to 0-3.

Holobaugh has fought at Featherweight during his time in the UFC, but will be moving up to 155-pounds where he won the Titan FC title back in 2017. Kurt is the taller man by 2-inches, but they share a 70″ reach. Moises is the younger man by 9-years.

The Brazilian didn’t showcase much of his offense in his debut, succumbing to the grappling-heavy attack of Dariush.

Holobaugh also lost his last fight on the mat; after scoring a knockdown and getting caught in an armbar.

On the feet, Holobaugh has some power and can put some decent volume on his opponent. He is also a little too willing to absorb damage and this cost him in his re-debut.

Both fighters have experience in longer fights. Moises has gone 5 rounds on 3 occasions, winning twice. Holobaugh has also fought into the championship rounds in multiple fights.

Holobaugh has been finished in each of his last 2 fights, but he has put forth decent performances. Moises has looked pedestrian at times and his struggles with pressure is concerning. Look for Holobaugh to benefit from the less impactful weight cut and push a steady pace of offense at his opponent. The visitor needs to be mindful of a close decision, but Kurt will simply outwork his foe from start to finish- my prediction is Kurt Holobaugh to defeat Thiago Moises by decision.

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135lbs- #10 Irene Aldana (9-4-0) vs Bethe Correia (10-3-1)

In the Womens Bantamweight division, former title challenger Bethe “Pitbull” Correia battles Mexico’s Irene Aldana. Correia is coming off a vicious knockout loss to Holly Holm and has struggled to a 1-3-1 record that started with her title fight loss to Ronda Rousey. Aldana

This fight was originally scheduled to take place last summer, but Bethe pulled out and hasn’t competed in almost 2-years. Aldana is the taller fight by 4 inches and will have a 4-inch reach advantage. Bethe is 5 years older.

Bethe garnered a quick rise to contention with less than impressive opposition. She has since faced better competition and the results have been less than stellar.

She has just a single win over her last 5-fights and it came by split decision.

Aldana started 0-2, but has since picked up back to back wins.

In stark contrast, Correia has won the majority of her fights (8 of 10) by decision. While Aldan has scored stoppages in 7 of her 9 wins- 5 by knockout.

Aldana is a high volume striker, willing to stand and trade with her opponent. She throws decent kicks and will work behind her jab. She is coming off her UFC personal-best 119-significant strikes landed.

Bethe prefers to work in close quarters. Moving into range to throw strikes and potentially backing her opponent into the cage. She can maintain a consistent output from start to finish, but her volume usually finds her in the 60 strikes range.

The Brazilian’s durability is a bit of a question mark. Both Holm and Rousey stopped her and Marion Reneau hurt her in the final round to earn a draw.

The home-field advantage could help Correia in a close fight that goes the distance. Conversely, the long layoff could get her off to a bit of a slow start. Aldana is the more diversified striker and should be more active as well. She needs to avoid allowing Correia to close the distance to both clinch and throw short-range strikes. While Aldana is hittable, she will make the greater impact and that will back Bethe off- my prediction is Irene Aldana to defeat Bethe Correia by TKO.

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155lbs- BJ Penn (16-13-2) vs Clay Guida (34-15-0)

The opening fight of the televised prelims features the continued search of BJ “The Prodigy” Penn for one more UFC victory as he takes on “The Carpenter” Clay Guida. Penn has not won a fight since his 2010 knockout of Matt Hughes, he is 0-6-1 since. Guida recent 2-fight resurgence was halted by a submission loss to Charles Oliveira.

BJ is the taller man by 2-inches, but they have the same reach. Guida is just 3-years younger than Penn.

Penn has held on way too long and it is rather shocking that he is still getting fights. His 2014 loss to Edgar would have been a fitting end.

Guida enters the fight not too far removed from a brief winning streak, proof that he can still win at this level.

How does BJ win this fight? Guida isn’t nearly as durable as he used to be, so there is the potential that Penn could clip him and score a finish.

Clay has also proven vulnerable on the mat with 10 losses by submission.

For Penn, his foot speed and boxing are a shadow of their former self and his cardio is worse than ever. That doesn’t bode well against Guida who’s key weapon remains his cardio and pace.

Clay has demonstrated a few new wrinkles in his striking that could be attributed to his time with Team Alpha Male.

It could be suggested that this will be Penn’s last walk to the Octagon, but that could have been said multiple times before. Penn doesn’t have much beyond a puncher’s chance here. There is a window for victory, but it will close fast and hard. The combination of Guida’s frenetic pace coupled with a few well-timed takedowns will prove too much for Penn as he slows more and more- my prediction is Clay Guida to defeat BJ Penn by TKO.

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125lbs- Luana Carolina (5-1-0) vs Priscila Cachoeira (8-2-0)

The 3rd early prelim to be altered by the injury bug sees Brazil Contender Series graduate Luana Carolina take on injury replacement Priscila Cachoeira in the Flyweight division. Carolina started her pro career with a defeat but has won 5 in a row since the loss. Cachoeira won 8 straight fight to being her MMA career, but she has lost back to back bouts at the onset of her UFC tenure including a devastating debut loss to Valentina Shevchenko.

Both girls are 5’7″, but Carolina will have a 4″ reach advantage. She is the younger girl by 5-years. Cachoeira is replacing Yanan Wu with less than 3 weeks to prepare.

Carolina bested an undefeated fighter in her Contenders bout, but her 3 previous opponents had a combined record of just 2-4. She has a pair of knockout wins, a single submission, and a 2-1 record on the cards.

In her debut, Cachoeira was simply overmatched. She spent the majority of the fight on the floor getting smashed. In her next fight, she had similar struggles surrendering a pair of takedowns.

The promotional neophyte does appear to have a threatening mat game. She has showcased a few skills on the floor but as a reaction to her foe taking her down. She likes to mix it up at distance and can do some damage in the clinch.

Cachoeira does her best work on the feet as well. She landed 75 significant strikes against McCann and has the majority of her success overwhelming her regional opponents while standing. Against McCann, she had mixed results in exchanges, often missing with big haymakers.

Cachoeira is a brawler, but just not a very effective one. Carolina appears to have the more capable striking attack and her reach advantage will help her to connect first. Carolina might opt to take the fight to the ground which is an area that Cachoeira has struggled with. Lastly, the short notice could negatively impact Priscila’s performance- my prediction is Luana Carolina to defeat Priscila Cachoeira by decision.

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170lbs- Warlley Alves (13-3-0) vs Sergio Moraes (14-5-1)

One of multiple all-Brazilian battles features TUF Brazil 3 winner Warlley Alves taking on elite level BJJ practitioner Sergio “Panther” Moraes in the Welterweight division. Alves is coming off an upset TKO loss to James Krause- he is 6-4 in the UFC. Moraes dropped a decision to Anthony Martin, dropping his Octagon mark to 8-3-1.

Moraes is an inch taller, but they have the same reach. Alves is the younger man by 9-years, but Moraes is making a quick turn around just 2-months removed from his last fight.

Both fighters have notable shortcomings that have impacted their previous performances. Alves’ cardio has failed him in more demanding fights.

While, Moraes has faltered when he has either been unwilling or unable to incorporate his BJJ into a fight.

Head to head, Alves is the more diversified fighter. He offers a dangerous submission game and capable striking attack with respectable power. That being said, Warlley will be hardpressed to get the better of Moraes on the mat.

Sergio is coming off a concerning performance where he struggled to find much success with his striking and his grappling was equally stifled. He seemed frustrated throughout the majority of the bout.

The knockout loss to Krause, the first of Alves’ career raises some concerns about his durability and coupled with his questionable cardio- this could signal a steep downturn in his career.

If Moraes pushes Alves, he could outwork or possibly score a knockout. For Alves, he is the more capable striker and should find success on the feet. Moraes doesn’t have the top-notch wrestling needed to incorporate his BJJ and Alves has had success stopping takedown oriented fighters. Warlley needs to be mindful of maintaining a consistent work rate without overextending himself. Alves will land the more consistent and impactful offense- my prediction is Warlley Alves to defeat Sergio Moraes by decision.

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135lbs- Raoni Barcelos (13-1-0) vs Carlos Huachin (10-3-1)

Another fight impacted by the withdrawal of a competitor will see the surging Raoni Barcelos fights Peru’s Carlos Huachin in the Bantamweight division. Barcelos is 2-0 in the Octagon but owns 4 straight wins over UFC rostered opponents. Huachin hasn’t lost since 2015 and has been defeated just once in his last 12 fights since an 0-2 start to his pro career.

Huachin is replacing Said Nurmagomedov with just over a week to prepare. Both men are 5’7″, but Huachin is the younger man by 9-years.

The UFC debutant fought just over a month ago, winning by first round TKO. Huachin has finished all 10 of his pro wins, 8 by knockout. Of his 10 stoppages, 9 have come in the first round compared to an 0-3-1 record on the cards.

Barcelos has proven his diversified finishing skills, recording a pair of UFC wins- 1 by sub and the other by knockout. Overall, he has finished 7 opponents by TKO/KO compared to just 2 submission victories.

As the numbers suggest, Huachin has power in his punches, mainly throwing big hooks in flurries while mixing in a sneaky uppercut.

Barcelos is more than willing to stand and trade, with serious power in his punches. If the striking exchanges aren’t fairing too well for the Brazilian, look for him to change levels for a takedown.

Huachin does tend to slow down and in his recent draw, he faded under his opponent’s pressure after a strong start.

With just a week to prepare, Huachin is facing a difficult task. His lack of success beyond the opening round is equally as concerning. Barcelos needs to avoid getting drawn into a brawl and should look to exploit the larger gap in capability which is on the mat. Look for the Brazilian, to continue his mix of striking and takedowns, ultimately getting it done on the floor- my prediction is Raoni Barcelos to defeat Carlos Huachin by submission.

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135lbs- #15 Talita Bernardo (6-3-0) vs Viviane Araujo (6-1-0)

With Melissa Gatto pulling out in the midst of fight week, Talita Bernardo will face another opponent change. Bernardo is coming off her first UFC win in 3 tries- a decision over Sarah Moras. Undefeated, Gatto turned pro in 2016 and fought 4-times in 2018 with a 3-0-1 record. Araujo has won 3 in a since suffering the first loss of her pro career.

The height and reach of both girls are identical with Araujo the younger fighter by a year. That being said, Araujo traditionally fights at Strawweight, a full 20-pounds below Bernardo.

Araujo has finished all 6 of her wins inside the distance- 4 by sub. 5 of 6 in the opening round. Her last 3 opponents have a combined 34-19 record.

Talita continued her reliance on takedowns completing 2 against Moras to run her overall total to 6 completions at a 25% completion rate.

On the feet, Araujo carries a solid pace and moves well. She will bounce in and out of range with single strikes. She should have a speed advantage on the feet which could be her avenue to victory here.

Against Moras, Bernardo didn’t experience the typical slowdown. She has had success with body lock takedowns and she was routinely able to pass the guard. In the final frame, she was put on her back but orchestrated a beautiful sweep back to top position.

The incredibly late notice could be an issue for Araujo, especially considering her lack of experience beyond the opening round. Bernardo can’t risk standing with a much quicker opponent. If she starts to slow down, Araujo will be able to pile up the volume and pull away on the cards. Look for Bernardo to close the gap, clinch, and drag her smaller opponent to the mat. Talita needs to magnify her size advantage- my prediction is Talita Bernardo to defeat Viviane Araujo by decision.

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135lbs- #15 Talita Bernardo (6-3-0) vs Melissa Gatto (6-0-2)Cancelled

The first fight of the night features Brazilian Talita Bernardo squaring off with the debuting and short-notice replacement Melissa Gatto in the Womens Bantamweight division. Bernardo is coming off her first UFC win in 3 tries- a decision over Sarah Moras. Undefeated, Gatto turned pro in 2016 and fought 4-times in 2018 with a 3-0-1 record.

Gatto is taking the spot of Jessica-Rose Clark with just over a month to prepare. She normally competes at Flyweight which will help her with the cut. She is 9-years younger than Bernardo and an inch taller.

Talita continued her reliance on takedowns completing 2 against Moras to run her overall total to 6 completions at a 25% completion rate.

The UFC newcomer has finished 4 of her 6 opponents by submission- all in the opening round. Gatto is 2-0-2 on the scorecards. Her last 3 opponents are a combined 20-9.

With an opportunistic submission game, Gatto will attack from top or bottom position. At this level, she will need to be mindful of giving up position too often.

Against Moras, Bernardo didn’t experience the typical slowdown. She has had success with body lock takedowns and she was routinely able to pass the guard. In the final frame, she was put on her back but orchestrated a beautiful sweep back to top position.

Bernardo should have the advantage on the feet for however long it stays there. She should also have the edge on the floor. Gatto is too willing to go to her back and the size and skill of Talita will neutralize her aggressive guard game. Bernado’s improved cardio is encouraging. Bernardo controls the action on the mat, capitalizes on superior positions and eventually sets up a finish- my prediction is Talita Bernardo to defeat Melissa Gatto by submission.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 151

135lbs- #14 Macy Chiasson (4-0-0) vs Sarah Moras (5-4-0)

The headlining fight of the undercard features recent TUF winner Macy Chiasson taking on Canadian Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras in the Bantamweight division. After defeating Pannie Kianzad in the TUF final, Chiasson finished Gina Mazany via first-round TKO at UFC 235. Mora has dropped back to back fights to Lucie Pudilova and Talita Bernardo- both by decision.

Chiasson formerly competed at Featherweight but made the move to 135 for her last fight. She is 4-inches taller than her foe to go along with a 5″ reach advantage. Moras is the older fighter by 3-years.

The recent TUF victor is early in her UFC career, but Macy is certainly making waves in a division badly in need of new faces. Conversely, Moras is a veteran that turned pro in 2010- but has struggled to remain active.

To be successful, the Canadian needs this fight on the floor. Moras has secured a pair of submission wins and is dangerous both from top and bottom position.

Conversely, Chiasson has demonstrated the ability to defend TDAs and turn the position in her favour. She offers a good sprawls and will utilize her long limbs to set up submissions and land ground and pound.

On the feet, the advantage swings entirely in the American’s favour. Macy hits very hard and can carry a steady pace. Moras has never been finished, but Chiasson’s offensive onslaught can be a lot to withstand.

With a short divisional debut, concerns still exist regarding Macy’s ability to handle a more demanding bout. That being said, Moras’s cardio concerns are well-establish. She is a dismal 1-4 in decisions and on multiple occasions she has tired in the early stages of a fight.

The window for Sarah’s success is limited, but she does have an avenue to victory. If Moras can get Chiasson down or catch her in a scramble, she could secure a submission win. She also risks exposing herself to vicious ground and pound of her foe. On the feet, look for Chiasson to blast Moras with brutal punching combinations. Whether standing or on the mat, Moras won’t be able to withstand’s Macy’s power- my prediction is Macy Chiasson to defeat Sarah Moras by TKO.

135lbs- Vince Morales (8-3-0) vs Aiemann Zahabi (7-1-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Tristar member Aiemann Zahabi takes on promotional sophomore Vince “Vandetta” Morales. Zahabi is 1-1 in the UFC, debuting with a victory but falling via knockout to Ricardo Ramos in his next bout. Morales lost via submission in his Contenders bout, earned a victory in Bellator, and was finally called to the UFC where he dropped a decision loss to Yadong Song.

The Canadian has not fought in over 17-months. Zahabi is 3-years older than his opponent. Morales will have a 2″ reach advantage despite being the shorter man by an inch.

Morales offers a decent striking attack. He will throw in combination and landed almost on par with his foe despite giving up a couple of takedowns.

Zahabi is coming off his first career loss which can spark a fighter to put forth an improved effort in his next fight.

Over his 2 performances, Aiemann has offered a lower than expected offensive output. He is patient and will look or opening, but is passivity creates openings for his adversary to outwork him. Prior to coming to the UFC, he had never fought beyond the first frame.

It is worth noting that he gave up 5 takedowns in just under 6-rounds of action.

In both his UFC and Contenders Series fights, Morales struggled with his opponent’s forward pressure. He routinely allows his foe to dictate the pace and will fight with his back to the cage- limiting his space for movement.

There is concern over the layoff and impact of the knockout loss suffered by Zahabi. He needs to get off to a better start, but the combination of his grappling attack and the questionable striking defense of Morales will be key here. Morales could outwork him on the feet, but look for the Canadian to take him to the floor if the vertical exchanges start to go poorly- my prediction is Aiemann Zahabi to defeat Vince Morales by submission.

170lbs- Nordine Taleb (14-6-0) vs Kyle Prepolec (12-5-0)

In a contest recently altered by injury, 10-fight UFC veteran Nordine Taleb takes on the debuting Kyle Prepolec in the Welterweight division. Taleb has dropped back to back fights and 3 of his last 5 with wins over Danny Roberts and Oliver Enkamp. Prepolec scored a decision victory over UFC castoff Cody Pfister for his 4th win over his last 5 contests.

Prepolec traditionally fights at Lightweight which will help him with the short notice. He is replacing Siyar Bahadurzada with less than 2 weeks to prep. Taleb is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Kyle is 8-years younger than Nordine.

The UFC newcomer has some power in his hands winning 7-times by knockout. He hurt Pfister on multiple occasions, including a devastating hook to the body, but he was unable to finish him.

Taleb’s best work has come on the mat as he has completed takedowns in 5 of his 6 UFC wins- 15 in total. By comparison, he has completed just a single takedown over his 4 UFC wins.

The recent success of the native of France has come via his power, stomping 2 of his last 3 wins by knockout. He has 7 wins by some form of knockout. His kicking game is solid and he works a decent overall counter striking offense.

Prepolec should have a speed advantage in this bout to go along with his power. With the recent knockout loss by Taleb, Kyle could find a finish if he can find a home for his power strikes.

Taleb needs to go back to his strength; wrestling. Prepolec showed good takedown defense against Pfister, but still found himself struggling to maintain the distance. If Nordine gets in on his hips, he should be able to take him down. Taleb’s size will show up on the mat and as long as he can account for the speed edge of his foe, the impact of his striking will also be greater- my prediction is Nordine Taleb to defeat Kyle Prepolec by decision.

145lbs- Kyle Nelson (12-2-0) vs Matt Sayles (7-2-0)

Huntsville product Kyle “The Monster” Nelson gets his first full camp for a UFC bout when he takes on Matt “Robo” Sayles in the Featherweight division. Nelson started strong but fell via TKO to Carlos Diego Ferreira in his short notice debut. Sayles also came up short in his first UFC showing, dropping a decision to Sheymon Moraes.

Nelson debuted at Lightweight but is moving down to 145-pounds. He is the taller man by 4 inches to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Sayles is the younger fighter by 3-years.

The Canadian put on a show early against Ferreira, landing multiple combinations and hurting him with a stiff push kick to the lower abdomen. Nelson has split his 8 finishes evenly between knockouts and submissions.

While Nelson faded in his debut, Sayles did his best work in the later stages of his fight. “Robo” landed 36 of his 77-significant strikes in the final frame.

A member of Alliance MMA and training partner of Dominick Cruz, Sayles utilizes a lot of footwork and movement to both setup both his offense and defense. He has some decent power, finishing 6 of his 7 wins by knockout.

He has fought beyond the first round just 4-times, with a 2-2 record.

While Nelson’s performance was most likely impacted by a couple of outside factors, Sayle’s style seems more suited to find success later in the fight. That being said, both fighters are finishers and capable of ending the fight early. Look for Nelson to come out aggressive with Sayles avoiding his early onslaught and potentially mixing in his wrestling. Sayles will avoid Nelson’s early offense before turning the fight in his favour- my prediction is Matt Sayles to defeat Kyle Nelson by TKO.


265lbs- Juan Adams (5-0-0) vs Arjan Singh Bhullar (8-1-0)

In the Heavyweight division, mountainous Juan “The Krakken” Adams takes on Canadian-born Arjan Bhullar. Most recently, Bhullar scored a decision win over Marcelo Golm to improve his UFC record to 2-1. Adams made a successful debut with a 3rd round TKO win over Chris de la Rocha to remain undefeated.

At 6’5″, Adams is a full 4 inches taller than Arjan to go along with a 5″ reach advantage. Juan should tip the scales 15 to 20 pounds heavier than his foe and he is the younger man by 6-years.

A former Collegiate wrestler, Adams has shown his willingness to take his opponent down. He has yet to record a win by submission, but his GNP has finished multiple foes.

Prior to his UFC debut, Adams had never fought beyond the opening frame. He noticeably slowed in round 2 against de la Rocha.

In stark contrast, Bhullar has had just a single fight end in the first frame. He is 5-0 in decisions and has gone 5-rounds once in his career.

Despite his high-level wrestling background, Bhullar has completed just 4 takedowns over 3 fights. In fact, his only multi-takedown performance came in defeat.

Where he does a decent job is striking before closing the gap to clinch and control his opponent on the cage. His ability to maintain a consistent output can be an effective weapon at the Heavyweight level.

Adams has the ability to end this fight early and Bhullar’s struggles to score takedowns is concerning. The size factor could help Juan in the opening round, but his lack of long fight experience could make his size a liability later in the contest. Bhullar has had a lot of success in longer fights and will be in his element grinding down Adams in rounds 2 and 3. Look for Bhullar to work at close range to nullify the power of his foe and control the action once he begins to slow- my prediction is Arjan Singh Bhullar to defeat Juan Adams by decision.

135lbs- Mitch Gagnon (12-4-0) vs Cole Smith (6-0-0)

The first fight of the night features the returning Canadian Mitch Gagnon battling short notice debutant Cole Smith in the Bantamweight division. Gagnon has dropped back to back fights, losing to Matthew Lopez and Renan Barao. Smith is undefeated with including a submission victory to start his 2019 run.

Smith took this fight with roughly 3-weeks to prep. He is the taller man by 6-inches to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Gagnon is the older man by 5-years and hasn’t fought in 28-months and just once since 2014.

Smith has recorded 5-finishes, ending 4 in the first round, 1 in the 4th round to go along with a 5 round decision win. His last 3 opponents are a combined 9-7.

The UFC veteran put together a solid 4-fight winning streak, but his back to back losses and prolong layoff and slowed his rise significantly.

Gagnon has ended 11 of his 12 victories by submission- 10 in the first round. He is 2-4 beyond the initial 5-minutes.

Smith recently focussed on improving his striking and focussed on his Muay Thai training, but in recent action, he has shown a willingness to look for takedowns and grind his opponent on the wall.

The focus for Mitch will be to close the distance, drag Smith to the floor and set up his submission game. The prolong layoff and his already questionable cardio limit his window for that opportunity. Look for the length of Smith to help him to keep Gagnon out of range early. Gagnon will work hard for takedowns and that will show up in rounds 2 and 3 as Smith’s relentless pressure capitalizes on a tired opponent- my prediction is Cole Smith to defeat Mitch Gagnon by submission.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 150

170lbs- Ben Saunders (22-11-2) vs Takashi Sato (12-1-1)

The final fight of the undercard pairs together Ben “Killa B” Saunders and the debuting Pancrase veteran Takashi Sato. Sato has won 6 of his last 7 fights, with his only loss coming to UFC veteran Glaico Franca. Saunders has just a single win over his last 5 outings- a TKO victory over the faltering Jake Ellenberger.

The American is the taller man by 4 inches to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Sato is the younger man by 7-years.

Ben debuted in the UFC back in 2007 and fought 10-time for Bellator between his 2 Octagon runs. He is an experienced fighter with a capable submission game and dangerous clinch-centric striking offense.

Unfortunately, the knockout defeats are starting to pile up for Saunders with 7 of his 11 losses coming by TKO or KO.

Sato enters the Octagon having won 9 times by knockout. In his last fight, he went back and forth with his foe, hurting him and getting hurt before gaining mount and ending the fight with GNP.

8 of his 11 wins have come in the opening round.

Prior to stopping Ellenberger, Saunders won a pair of contestable decisions where he narrowly edged out his opponent despite struggling to match their volume on the feet.

Ultimately, this fight comes down to the durability of Saunders. It is simply not there. The mileage has piled up alongside the knockout defeats. Sato is far from indestructible, but he is the more durable fighter. Saunders could catch him with a something in the clinch or secure a sub, but  Sato is more likely to hurt him and keep engaging until he scores the finish- my prediction is Takashi Sato to defeat Ben Saunders by knockout.

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265lbs- #15 Andrei Arlovski (27-17-0 2NC) vs Augusto Sakai (11-1-1)

Former Heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski returns to action against promotional sophomore August Saki. Saki stopped Chase Sherman in his debut and compiled an impressive 4-1-1 record in Bellator- dropping a decision to Cheick Kongo. Arlovski lost to Walt Harris by questionable decision, but the fight was overturned- he has just 2 wins in his last 10 fights.

Andrei is the older man by 12-years, but they are both 6’3″ and share a 77″ reach. Look for Sakai to weigh-in 15 to 25 pounds heavier.

When he is at his best, Arlovski utilizes good movement, above average hand speed and a solid boxing attack. He augments his hands with kicks and will take his opponent down when needed.

In recent action, he has struggled to produce offensively and has slowed down as the fight advanced. Including the No Contest, he is 2-4 over his last 6 decisions.

Sakai is coming off a marked 111-significant strike performance in his late round TKO victory.

Augusto moves well for a big man and throws good volume, but he is also willing to absorb damage in the process. His opponent landed 79-significant strikes.

For Arlovski to be successful, he will need an uptick in his offense and an improved defensive front that limits the damage his foe can do.

The former Champion has been knocked out 10-times.

Sakai is the heavier man, but should also have an edge in movement and output. He can do damage at range with punches and kicks, but his clinch game is also dangerous and will grind Andrei down. Arlovski needs to punish Augusto for willingly accepting damage, even potentially finishing him if he gets the chances. That won’t be easy. The more durable Brazilian will wade forward with a constant flow of heavy offense, my prediction is Augusto Sakai to defeat Andrei Arlovski by TKO.

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115lbs- #9 Carla Esparza (13-6-0) vs Virna Jandiroba (12-1-0)

The first of 2 former UFC champions to compete on the undercard, Carla “The Cookie Monster” Esparza welcomes the debuting Invicta FC Strawweight champion Virna Jandiroba to the promotion. Esparza dropped a split decision to Claudia Gadelha and more recently fell via TKO to top contender Tatiana Suarez. Jandiroba won a split decision over Mizuki Inoue to capture the Invicta strap and defended it with a 2nd round armbar last September- she went 3-0 in the promotion.

Jandiroba is replacing Livia Souza with a month to prepare. She is the taller fighter by 2 inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. Virna is also a year younger than Esparza.

Both girls have found their success primarily on the ground. Esparza is 4-2 when she lands at least 2 takedowns in the UFC, falling via split decision in each loss. Jandiroba, a BJJ Black belt, has recorded 11 of her 14 wins by submission. 6 by RNC.

Still undefeated, Jandiroba is 3-0 in decisions winning twice by split.

Based in wrestling, Esparza’s track record would suggest she should hold a positional edge on the floor. Unfortunately, she is coming off of a loss where she was dominated on the mat and she also dropped a decision to Randa Markos who out-positioned her on the ground.

If Jandiroba is able to get Carla to the mat, she is difficult to control and in constant pursuit of the submission. On the feet, her striking attacking is still developing and could be a significant problem if she is forced to rely on it.

Esparza’s win over Cynthia Calvillo is a perfect example of what she needs to do here. Look for Carla to use her wrestling in reverse to force her opponent to stand and trade. Virna will get second best of the stand-up and once the short notice factor kicks in and Jandiroba slows, Carla will control her from top position if wanted- my prediction is Carla Esparza to defeat Virna Jandiroba by decision.

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155lbs- Gilbert Burns (14-3-0) vs Mike Davis (7-1-0)

In the opening fight of the televised prelims, Brazil’s Gilbert Burns welcomes the debuting Mike “Beast Boy” Davis to the UFC. Burns is coming off a well-fought decision win over Olivier Aubin-Mercier to earn his 3rd victory over his last 4-fights. Davis suffered the first loss of his pro career in his Tuesday Night Contenders Series bout with Sodiq Yusuff, but returned to the regional scene and the win column in his 2 next outings.

At 6’0″, Davis is 2 inches taller to go along with a slight 1″ reach advantage. Davis is the younger man by 6-years, but traditionally fights at 145-pounds.

Davis is stepping in with a week to prep after Eric Wisely pulled out. It is a 1-month turnaround from his last fight.

A talented BJJ Black belt, Burns has recorded 7 wins by submission to go along with a 7-0 record in fights where he lands more takedowns.

“Beast Boy” prefers to do his work on the feet, recording 6 wins by TKO or KO. A methodical striker, Davis maintains a consistent but not overwhelming boxing based attack. He has finished 3 opponents in round 1, 2 in the final frame, and 1 in the middle frame.

The recent success of Burns has partially been a product of his improved striking skills. He newly added a pair of knockouts to his resume, but also suffered a knockout loss- the first of his career.

Davis is coming in on short notice which is a nightmare considering he is facing a very talented fighter. Conversely, Burns is the type of fighter that will struggle if thrown off his game. Burns is capable of holding his own and winning on the feet, but his advantage is far greater on the mat. Gilbert will eventually put Davis on the floor and go to work- my prediction is Gilbert Burns to defeat Mike Davis by submission.

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155lbs- Jim Miller (29-13-0 1NC) vs Jason Gonzalez (11-4-0)

31-fight UFC veteran Jim Miller attempts to turn back the clock against the returning Jason Gonzalez. Miller suffered a submission loss in a rematch against Charles Oliveira- he has just a single win in his last 6-fights. Gonzalez earned a win in his second UFC outing, but suffered stoppage losses to Drew Dober and Gregor Gillespie in his other 2 contests.

Miller is 6-years older than Gonzalez who has not seen the inside of the Octagon in roughly 19-months. Gonzalez is the taller man by 6-inches, but he will have just a 3-inch reach advantage.

Over his career, Miller has faced elite level competition over 11-years. Conversely, Gonzalez has had roughly 1 noteworthy sequence, catching J.C. Cottrell with a D’arce choke after being on the defensive.

Gonzalez has either been finished or finished his opponent in all fights- 7 of 11 wins by submission. Of his last 10 fights, only 2 have gone beyond the first round.

The best attribute of Jimmy has been his submission game. In his most recent victory, he scored an early knockdown before locking in the RNC. Miller has 15 career submission wins with his trio of losses coming against top-level grapplers.

Miller has always been tough, but he has started to show more damage over his career. Suffering back to back finish defeats.

Gonzalez is the bigger and younger man, but the layoff and his questionable durability are major concerns. Miller is still a talented grappler and is taking a sizeable step back in competition from recent opposition. Look for Jim to utilize his low calf kick to throw off the balance of Gonzalez and set up his hands and eventual takedown attempts. Either via knockdown or takedown, Jim will get Gonzalez horizontal- my prediction is Jim Miller to defeat Jason Gonzalez by submission.

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115lbs- Angela Hill (8-6-0) vs Jodie Esquibel (6-4-0)

Former Invicta FC champion Angela “Overkill” Hill takes on Jodie Esquibel in the Strawweight division. Hill is coming off a tough submission loss to Randa Markos and has struggled to a 2-5 mark in her 2nd UFC stint. Esquibel is winless in 2 UFC fights, including a decision loss Jessica Aguilar in her last fight.

Hill is the taller fighter by 2 inches, but they share a 64″ reach. Hill is replacing Jessica Penne on just one week’s notice and just a month removed from her last fight. Angela is a year older than Esquibel.

Both fighters have spent the majority of their successful Octagon time on the feet. Hill would be the more likely to hit the floor as she has completed a couple of takedowns in recent action.

Neither girl has a submission win, but they have a combined 3 losses on the mat.

Esquibel comes from a boxing background, but she has just a single win by knockout and has struggled with the output of her opponents.

Conversely, Hill’s greatest strength has been her volume. Her movement and output have improved significantly and she had surpassed the century mark in strikes over her last 3 fights prior to the Markos’ loss.

More concerning for Esquibel has been her struggles in decisions. She is 5-3 on the cards, but 3 of her 5 wins have come by split decision. She has given up over 120-significant strikes in each of her UFC bouts.

This fight should largely be contested on the feet, but as mentioned Hill could mix in a takedown if wanted. Esquibel lacks significant power and her offensive output and defensive work is simply not where it needs to be. Hill’s movement and work rate will be too much for her adversary to keep up to- my prediction is Angela Hill to defeat Jodie Esquibel by decision.

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170lbs- Court McGee (20-6-1) vs Dhiego Lima (15-7-0)

The opening fight of the night features a pair of experienced veterans as TUF 11 winner Court “The Crusher” McGee meets TUF 19 and 25 finalist Dhiego Lima. Lima is coming off a knockout win over Chad Laprise, his first UFC victory since late 2014. McGee snapped a 2-fight skid with a decision win over Alex Garcia, he is 8-6 in the UFC.

Lima is 3 inches taller than Court, but McGee will have a 1″ reach advantage. Lima is the younger fighter by 5-years.

McGee’s success has primarily come from his volume striking attack and overall work ethic. That being said he has not put up as much volume in recent action as he did in the early stages of his career.

The win for Lima over Laprise was his 4th career knockout win and first stoppage win in almost 5-years.

Dhiego has struggled with 2 key areas; durability and pressure. Opponents have exploited these factors together, resulting in 4 stoppage defeats and 5 overall.

Over 26 career fights, Court has been finished just once, but he has worn more damage in recent outings.

“The Crusher” has opted to employ his wrestling more frequently and with success. He has completed 11 takedowns over his last 5 wins. Lima has relinquished 8 takedowns over his last 2 losses.

If Lima can’t crack the solid chin of his opponent, he is going to be hard-pressed to get his hand raised. McGee’s striking volume combined with well-timed takedowns and top control will put him ahead on the cards. Dhiego’s shaky chin could put Court in a position to score a finish, especially once the volume starts to add up- my prediction is Court McGee to defeat Dhiego Lima by TKO.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 149

145lbs- Movsar Evloev (10-0-0) vs Sung Woo Choi (7-1-0)

The headlining fight of the undercard features a pair of debuting fighters as Movsar Evloev meets Sung Woo Choi in the Featherweight division. Evloev is undefeated, fighting his entire career under the M-1 banner which included winning the promotions 135-pound title in 2017. Choi has secured a pair of wins since suffering his first pro loss which he avenged in his most recent fight.

Choi stands 5’11”, 3 inches taller than his opponent, but he will have just a 2″ reach. Evloev is the younger man by 2-years, but is moving up from his normal Bantamweight home. Choi hasn’t competed in 16-months while Evloev has been out of action for 9-months.

With a pair of debuting fighters, there is a lot to figure out. Choi’s last 3 opponents are a combined 23-11 compared to 44-13 for Evloev, so neither man is fighting low-level opposition. The edge goes to Evloev based on the experience of his opponents, but both men have recent title fight experience.

Choi is also fighting with just 3-weeks to prepare.

Evloev’s greatest edge in this fight is on the mat with a strong wrestling attack and submission skills. If Choi can force him to remain vertical, he has some pop in his hands and decent striking skills to rely on. Ultimately, the Russian is capable of holding his own on the feet long enough to close and get the fight to the floor. Look for Movsar to work to Choi’s back to set up his submission of choice- my prediction is Movsar Evloev to defeat Sung Woo Choi by submission.


170lbs- Sultan Aliev (14-3-0) vs Keita Nakamura (34-8-1 1NC)

In the Welterweight division, Bellator alumni Sultan Aliev returns to Russia for the first time in 5-years to take on the talented Japanese veteran Keita “K-Taro” Nakamura. Aliev is 1-2 in the UFC with a split decision win over Bojan Velickovic sandwiched between knockout losses. Nakamura’s second run with the promotion has seen him win 4 of 7, alternating wins and losses including a pair of split decision wins.

Aliev has fought in 11-months and has just a single fight since late 2016. He has an inch reach advantage over “K-Taro”, but they are the same age and height.

Nakamura’s durability has been an impressive feature of his 46-fight career. Aliev has won 10-times by knockout, the last coming back in 2014.

Despite his 10-wins by knockout, Sultan’s striking leaves a lot to be desired. Conversely, Nakamura offers a better than expected striking attack with more power than his stats would suggest. Unless Aliev can take Keita down and pin him to the floor for large durations of the fight, he will struggle to keep up offensively. Nakamura defends the TDAs or utilizes his submission skills to gain the edge on the mat- my prediction is Keita Nakamura to defeat Sultan Aliev by decision.


155lbs- Alexander Yakovlev (23-8-1) vs Alex Da Silva (20-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, Alexander Yakovlev takes on the debuting Alex Da Silva of Brazil. Yakovlev is 2-4 in the promotion, most recently he lost fights to Zak Cummings and the now Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. Da Silva has picked up back to back wins since suffering the first loss of his pro career back in 2017.

A former Welterweight, Yakolev is massive at Lightweight, standing 7-inches taller than Da Silva, but only hold a slight 1″ reach advantage. Da Silva is coming in on 3-weeks notice and is the younger man by 12-years while Yakolev hasn’t fought in nearly 29-months.

Finishing all 20 of his opponents, 13 by knockout- Da Silva has put together an impressive run that has included 17 first round finishes. Yakolev scored a number of finishes early in his career, but has just 1 over his last 11-fights.

It is a battle between a debuting short-notice fighter and one coming off a huge layoff, but fighting at home. Yakovlev is massive, but that could work against him if the fight goes poorly The Brazilian is the faster man but that won’t matter if Alexander can ground him. Yakolev’s losses have come against decent competition and that isn’t the case for Da Silva who has limited experience beyond round 1. Yakolev drags the Brazilian beyond the opening frame, where his size and experience play a significant role- my prediction is Alexander Yakolev by decision.


265lbs- #10 Marcin Tybura (17-4-0) vs #13 Shamil Abdurakhimov (19-4-0)

In one of the few fights to feature ranked fighters, #10 Heavyweight Marcin Tybura of Poland takes on Russia’s Shamil Abdurakhimov. Tybura secured a decision win over Stefan Struve to end a 2 fight losing skid. Abdurakhimov has won back to back fights over Chase Sherman and Andrei Arlovski.

Both fighters are 6’3″, but Tybura will have a 2″ reach advantage. The younger man by 4-years, Marcin should be the heavier man by 15-pounds.

Neither man is known for the high offensive outputs. Instead, both have proven themselves capable of grinding their way to a win.

Tybura offers a decent kicking attack at distance and his clinch game will serve him well on the inside. Abdurakhimov is simply not busy enough on the feet and with Tybura’s ability to mix in a couple of well-timed takedowns- he will control this fight. my prediction is Marcin Tybura to defeat Shamil Abdurakhimov by decision.


205lbs- Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-5-0) vs Michal Oleksiejczuk (13-2-0)

The second fight of the night features a quick turnaround for Polish fighter Michal Oleksiejczuk as steps in on short notice to face Gadzhimurad Antigulov in the Light Heavyweight division. Oleksiejczuk is undefeated in 11 with a TKO win over Gian Villante and a win turned NC against Khalil Rountree. Antigulov scored quick back to back submission to start in the UFC, but suffered an opening round TKO loss to Ion Cutelaba last time out.

Oleksiejczuk is the taller man by an inch, but he will have a 4″ reach advantage. The Pole is the younger man by 8-years.

The Polish fighter likes to push a torrid pace and look for his foe to falter. He is also willing to absorb damage in the process. Antigulov focusses his attack on takedowns. Timing his foe, putting them on their back, and working towards a submission finish.

If Antigulov can score the early takedown, he could wrap this fight up before Oleksiejczuk can deploy the skills that make him most effective. Conversely, if the aggressive start of Antigulov doesn’t pay dividends, we will fade and get put down by the unrelenting onslaught of Michal. The speed and movement of the Pole will make it difficult for the Russian to close on him and his struggle to secure control on the floor will cost him as it did in his last fight- my prediction is Michal Oleksiejczuk to defeat Gadzhimurad Antigulov by TKO.


155lbs- Magomed Mustafaev (13-2-0) vs Rafael Fiziev (6-0-0)

The first of a couple of long lost Russians on the card, Magomed Mustafaev returns to action to meet the debuting Rafael Fiziev in the Lightweight division. Mustafaev started his UFC run with a pair of wins to extend his winning streak to 13 before running into the future contender Kevin Lee. Fiziev is coming off a successful debut in Titan FC in late 2018, his first fight a year.

Mustafaev has not competed since November 2016, 29-months ago. Physically, they are identical with Fiziev the younger man by 5-years.

Building on his extensive Muay Thai background, Fiziev has parlayed his skills to 5 knockouts- 4 in the first round. In a similar fashion, Mustafaev has hammered his way to 10 knockout wins.

Neither man has ever seen the scorecards and most likely won’t here either. Mustafaev does some decent bodywork, but he tends to be a little wild with his techniques. Fiziev is the technically superior striker and Mustafaev’s layoff could lead to a bit of a slow start. Mustafaev does have the option to go to the floor in this fight and has a sizeable edge in experience. Look for the Russian to get the home crowd popping early, my prediction is Magomed Mustafaev to defeat Rafael Fiziev by TKO.

UFC 236: Holloway vs Poirier

155lbs- Jalin Turner (7-4-0) vs Matt Frevola (6-1-1)

The final fight before the main card kicks off will showcase the 3rd UFC outing of Jalin “The Tarantula” Turner as he meets Matt “The Steamrolla” Frevola in the Lightweight division. Turner got finished at Welterweight by Vicente Luque, but made short work of his foe in his Lightweight debut. Frevola is winless in the UFC after an entertaining draw against Lando Vannata and a 60-second knockout loss in his debut against Marco Polo Reyes.

At 6’3″, Turner full half-foot taller than his foe with a 6-inch reach advantage. Turner is also the younger man by 5-years.

Turner held his own against Luque, but showcased his sharp striking tools in his last fight. He floored his foe with a lead straight hand and follow-up strikes. He has finished 7 of his 8 opponents by knockout.

Despite developing a reputation as a brawler, Frevola has just a single win by knockout compared to a trio of submission. He traded with Vannata both getting hurt and hurting him during the exchanges.

Turner has been knocked out in 3 of his 4 defeats.

If Frevola opts to utilize his mat game against Turner, he will need to find a way to get passed the sizable length advantage without eating too much damage.

Frevola has to find his way inside, whether to strike or to grapple- covering that distance is key. Turner’s height and reach is unreal for Lightweight and he has shown he can use those skills. Look for Turner to keep Frevola on the outside, punishing him for willingly trade and countering as he attempts to close and shoot. Both guys have succumbed to strikes before, but Turner has the ability to land first- my prediction is Jalin Turner to defeat Matt Frevola by TKO.


125lbs- #4 Wilson Reis (23-9-0) vs #5 Alexandre Pantoja (20-3-0)

Despite the uncertainty of the division, former Flyweight title challenger Wilson Reis takes on fellow Brazilian Alexandre Pantoja. Reis ended a 3-fight skid with a solid victory over Ben Nguyen, his trio of defeats included losses to the only 2 men to wear the title belt. Pantoja has won back to back fights, most recently submitting Ulka Sasaki- he is 4-1 in the UFC.

Pantoja is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 5-years.

The title fight loss and subsequent post-title defeat to Henry Cejudo were understandable, but the third loss signals a downturn for Reis. His rise to contention came largely on his improved striking augmenting his already solid mat skills.

Also a capable submission fighter, Pantoja has won 8 times by sub- 6 times by rear-naked choke.

Reis returned to his roots against Ben “Ten”. He latched onto a single leg early and completed 7 overall takedowns. He has completed 39 takedowns over 7 UFC wins.

Pantoja has given up 13 completions in 5 UFC contests, including 7 against Dustin Ortiz in his only loss. Pantoja is an adept scrambler and difficult to control on the mat.

If Reis is forced to work on the feet, he will trade but his volume is limited. Conversely, Pantoja has a solid kicking attack and can work well from the clinch as well.

He should have a decided edge in vertical output.

If Alexandre forces a striking fight he wins on the basis of superior volume, variety, and durability. If Reis can take him down and control his adversary with consistency- he gets his hand raised. The key features are the scrambling skills of Pantoja and the cardio of Reis. Look for Pantoja to work his way out of bad spots and limit the benefit of the early takedowns, with Wilson slowing as the fight progresses- my prediction is Alexandra Pantoja to defeat Wilson Reis by decision.


170lbs- Max Griffin (14-6-0) vs Zelim Imadaev (8-0-0)

Unable to capitalize on his upset win over Mike Perry, Max Griffing will attempt to get back in the win column when he meets the debuting Zelim Imadaev in the Welterweight division. Griffin has dropped back to back bouts to Curtis Millender and Thiago Alves via controversial decision. The undefeated Imadaev made his pro debut in 2016, fight 7-times over his first two years but just once in early in 2018.

Imadaev is the taller man by an inch and 10-years younger than Griffin. They share the same reach.

The Russian is debuting and returning to action after a 13-month layoff. Those are a pair of scenarios that could complicate Imadaev’s performance, especially against a veteran like Griffin making his 7 Octagon walk.

Griffin has faced a number of capable power punchers with his only knockout loss coming against Colby Covington’s non-stop barrage of wrestling and GNP. He has also showcased his own power with 7 wins by TKO or KO- just 1 in the UFC.

Imadaev has finished all 8 of his wins by knockout, including 5 in the first frame. His last 3 foes are a combined 29-21 with only 1 fighter holding an above .500 record. They also have suffered a total of 9 knockout defeats.

The Russian is extremely aggressive, pushing forward behind wild haymakers and mixing in kicks. To counter, Griffin has utilized his wrestling and more distance oriented striking attacking to nullify the threat of previously faced power punchers.

If Imadaev can land early, he is capable of taking Griffin out. The time away for Zelim could both create ring rust but also lead to a leap in overall capability. Griffin has dealt with aggressive striker before with mixed results. The key difference is that the opponents he has faced are more proven fighters. Look for the combination of ring rust, Octagon jitters, limited long fight experience, and below average opposition all to compromise Imadaev’s performance- my prediction is Max Griffin to defeat Zelim Imadaev by decision.


135lbs- Boston Salmon (6-1-0) vs Khalid Taha (12-2-0)

The debuting Boston “Boom Boom” Salmon looks to begin his upstream swim towards UFC notoriety when he meets Germanys Khalid Taha in the Bantamweight division. Salmon was successful on his Contenders Series fight to rebound from his first pro loss. Taha made an unsuccessful debut against Nad Narimani for his 2nd loss over his last 3 fights.

Salmon hasn’t seen action in 22-months. Khalid is closing on a year out of action. Salmon is 5 inches taller, but they have an equal 69″ reach. Taha is 2-years younger.

Finishing 10 of 12 opponents (7 by knockout), Taha is a danger on the feet. Over a smaller sample size, Salmon has snuffed out 4 of his 6 pro wins by knockout- only 2 in the first frame.

Taha’s short notice debut came down to his TDD. He gave up 6 completions and spent too much time on his back. In this contest, both fighters will most likely opt to stay vertical and slug it out.

The Contenders win for Salmon was highlighted by a strong counterstriking attack. Every time his foe moved into range, he landed counters with regularity. Conversely, waiting on his opponent to engage often makes Boston the secondary striker and opens him up to damage.

Taha is 1-2 over his last 3 fights to go 3 rounds with 5 of his last 8 fights ending in the initial frame- all wins.

If Taha can overcome the height issue and push a torrid pace, he has the ability to outwork his opponent. A quick start for Khalid would go a long way to make the Salmon layoff, a factor in this fight. Conversely, the counter striking of Boston will flow well in cooperation with Taha’s need to close the gap. Look for Salmon’s more economical style to hold up in the later stages of the fight, hurting Taha as he starts to slow- my prediction is Boston Salmon to defeat Khalid Taha by TKO.

170lbs- Curtis Millender (17-4-0) vs Belal Muhammad (14-3-0)

In the headlining fight of the Fight Pass undercard, “Curtious” Curtis Millender returns to the cage to take on Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad in the Welterweight division. Millender is coming off a disappointing, streak-snapping loss that ended a 9-fight winning streak. Muhammad’s 4-fight resurgence was also ended in his most recent outing, he dropped a decision to Geoff Neal- he is 5-3 in the UFC.

Millender is the taller man by 3 inches to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Belal is a year younger. Millender is returning to action just a month removed from his last appearance.

Millender’s definitive defeat last time out came almost entirely as the result of his questionable defensive grappling. While he has been able to avoid the mat in most of his fights, the loss was Curtis’s 3rd via submission.

Offering the skills to potentially exploit that gap, Muhammad has yet to record a win by submission but he has showcased a capable wrestling attack.

Belal has completed 13 takedowns over his 5 UFC triumphs.

If Millender can keep the fight vertical, he offers a nice variety of striking techniques and uses his reach well. While he has secured just 6 of his 17 wins by knockout his timing makes him a constant threat on the feet.

The focus of Belal will be volume. His attack is built around consistent offense, averaging 4.57 significant strikes per minute with a UFC best 88 strikes landed against Tim Means.

Muhammad was obliterated by Vicente Luque in his only knockout loss. A well-placed knee could do the same for Millender. If Curtis can’t finish him his distance management will need to be on point as Belal will most likely look to close and change levels. Millender’s TDD has been a major issue and Muhammad will capitalize- my prediction is Belal Muhammad to defeat Curtis Millender by decision.


135lbs- Montel Jackson (7-1-0) vs Andre Soukhamthath (13-6-0)

With each fighter coming off important wins, Montel “Quik” Jackson meets Andre “The Asain Sensation” Soukhamthath in the Bantamweight division. Jackson lost his debut to Ricky Simon, but bounced back in a big way with a submission victory over Brian Kelleher in his next fight. Soukhamthath is 2-3 inside the Octagon, earning a win over Jonathan Martinez in his last outing.

Jackson stands just an inch taller than Andre, but “Quik” will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage and is the younger man by 4-years.

Soukhamthath’s key to success has been his punching power. A capable striker with solid body strikes, he has finished 8 opponents by knockout- 1 in the UFC.

In similar fashion, 5 of Jackson’s 7 pro victories have come via TKO or KO. Prior to submitting Kelleher, he hurt him during an early exchange.

Where Soukhamthath has struggled has been with urgency. He did a better job in his last fight, but overall his willingness to let his opponent press the action has cost him. He is a dismal 2-6 in fights that go the distance.

Jackson’s loss to Simon came largely as a result of his inability to match Ricky’s output.

The reach of Jackson and his more active work rate are going to be the keys to his success. Soukhamthath’s willingness to absorb damage and allow his opponent to dictate the exchanges is going to put him at a sizeable deficit. Look for Jackson to utilize his reach to keep Andre on the outside and possible change levels for a takedown at a key moment- my prediction is Montel Jackson to defeat Andre Soukhamthath by decision.


125lbs- Lauren Mueller (6-1-0) vs Poliana Botelho (7-2-0)

Looking to make a charge to the rankings, formerly undefeated Lauren “Princess Tiger” Mueller battles Brazil’s Poliana Botelho in the Flyweight division. Mueller is coming off an opening-round submission loss in her UFC sophomore outing after grabbing a decision win in her debut. Botelho won back to back fights to start her UFC run, but most recently fell via submission to Cynthia Calvillo.

Botelho is 3 inches taller but they will share the same 67″ reach. Mueller is the younger fighter by 3-years.

The Brazilian is a heavy-handed finisher, earning 5 of her 6 wins by knockout. Poliana throttled Syuri Kondo with a vicious body kick and subsequent body shots.

Prior to making the jump to the Tuesday Night Contenders circuit and then the Octagon, Mueller fought her first 3 fights under the Gladiator Challenge banner, facing a trio of opponents with a combined 0-7 record.

Both girls like to stand and bang, but this bout could be decided on the floor. Botelho was subbed by Calvillo and had issues creating separation int he clinch against Pearl Gonzalez.

Mueller utilized a couple of takedowns in her win over Dobson and had success on the floor before getting subbed in her last fight.

Stepping in for Paige VanZant with 6 weeks to prep, Mueller will need to be the more diversified fighter. If Mueller can take the Brazilian down with regularity, she could work her way to a win. Botelho is the bigger hitter and her height will help her to reach her foe first.  Look for Poliana to defend a couple of TDAs and force Lauren into a striking battle- my prediction is Poliana Botelho to defeat Lauren Mueller by TKO.


135lbs- Brandon Davis (9-6-0) vs Randy Costa (4-0-0)

The first fight of the night could put Bradon Davis’s roster spot on the line when he welcomes the debuting Randy Costa to the promotion. Davis is just 1-3 inside the Octagon and is coming off a submission loss at UFC 228 to Zabit Magomedsharipov. Costa made his debut with just 4 career fights, all wins, all under the Cage Titans FC banner.

Davis, who is moving down to Bantamweight, is the taller man by an inch, but Costa will have a 1″ reach advantage. Costa is the younger man by 4-years.

With Costa debuting on the strength of just 4 wins, it is worth looking at his previous competition. They currently carry a combined record of 5-16 with 3 competitors still winless.

Davis has struggled to find his footing, mainly suffering at the expense of his opponent’s grappling skills. He has given up a combined 19 takedowns over his 3 UFC losses.

Costa’s longest pro fight hit the 72-second mark with the rest ending before the opening minute. He tends towards a kick-based offense, but he can also work the body with solid punching combinations.

The cut to 135-pounds is concerning. Davis has good cardio and durability at Featherweight and if the cut diminishes that, an aggressive starter like Costa could be enough to get him out of there.

Davis does his best work in a striking based fight and Costa should provide him with that. Costa’s lack of experience, extremely limited fight time, and very low level of competition are all major detractors for the Lauzon MMA member. As long as Davis isn’t badly diminished, his durability will be his biggest ally. Look for Brandon to drag Costa into unfamiliar territory and eventually overwhelm him- my prediction is Brandon Davis to defeat Randy Costa by TKO.

UFC on ESPN 2: Barboza vs Gaethje

115lbs- Jessica Aguilar (20-7-0) vs Marina Rodriguez (10-0-1)

The final fight feature on the prelims will transpire in the Strawweight division as former WSOF Champion Jessica “Jag” Aguilar battles UFC sophomore Marina Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s perfect run came to an end with a debut draw against Randa Markos. Aguilar is a disappointing 1-3 in the UFC, most recently suffering a violent submission loss to Weili Zhang.

Rodriguez is the taller fighter by 3 inches to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. She is 5-years younger than her foe.

Aguilar’s UFC struggles have been largely based on her lack of ability to land takedowns and outwork her opponent. On average, she has given up 6.98 significant strikes per minute while completing just 26% of her TDAs.

Building around a Muay Thai background, Rodriguez will look to keep this fight standing. She struggled with the early grappling exchanges against Markos but got back in the fight once she forced the Canadian to compete on the feet.

The only Octagon win for “Jag” came largely on her striking success, where she strung together over 100-significant strikes. Conversely, best wrestling performance (4 takedowns) resulted in a decision loss.

She is stepping in on 2-weeks notice.

Rodriguez has finished 5 opponents by knockout. She can do damage from the outside with hard kicks and punching combos or close the distance for a clinch based attack.

Aguilar has been underwhelming in her UFC run and got smashed her most recent outing. Coming in on short notice might help her to get back on track, but her wrestling has to be on point. Rodriguez found some early trouble with the takedowns of Markos. If Aguilar can repeat this success, the decision is there to be won. Instead, look for Rodriguez to shut down the early TDAs and start to piece up “Jag” with a more varied and consistent offense- my prediction is Marina Rodriguez to defeat Jessica Aguilar by decision.

155lbs- Ros Pearson (20-15-0) vs Desmond Green (21-8-0)

25-fight UFC veteran Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson meets Bellator veteran Desmond “The Predator” Green in the Lightweight division. After a successful debut, Green has dropped 3 of his last 4 fights most recently falling to Mairbek Taisumov. Pearson has just a single win over his last 5 outings, defeating Mizuto Hirota but losing to the likes of John Makdessi and Dan Hooker.

Green is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Green is the younger fighter by 5-years.

Despite his struggles, Pearson has remained competitive in most fights. Green has faced similar scenarios against difficult opposition.

The Brit is most effective when he can draw his opponent into a striking based battle. He works behind a jab, backed with power hooks, and decent volume.

The knock on Green has been his inability to distance himself in close fights. With the exception of the Glieson Tibau win, his vertical output has been on the lower end.

Where he has found some success has been with his wrestling. “The Predator” has taken down some good ground fighters and should find some success against Pearson.

Pearson has good takedown defense and will periodically go offensive with his wrestling, but look for Des to use well-timed takedowns to score in close rounds.

Green is the more durable fighter and has more avenues to victory. Unless he gets lulled into a low output striking dual, this is his fight to win. Green will utilize his speed to hold his own on the feet and put Pearson on the floor to add to his overall output- my prediction is Desmond Green to defeat Ross Pearson by decision.


145lbs- Kevin Aguilar (16-1-0) vs Enrique Barzola (15-3-1)

An impressive debut victory has opened the door for the “Angel of Death” Kevin Aguilar as he takes on the streaking Enrique Barzola in the Featherweight division. Barzola has won 4 consecutive fights, most recently defeating Brandon Davis by decision. Aguilar battles Kevin Glenn in a scrappy affair, earning a decision nod for his 8th consecutive victory.

While both men stand 5’7″, Aguilar will have a 3″ reach advantage. Barzola is the younger fighter by a year.

Aguilar might have gone the distance with Glenn, but he showcased the heavy nature of his punching arsenal. He routinely hurt Glenn as he moved forward, countering and setting his feet to land flurries to the head and body.

Building on his wrestling background, Barzola has completed multiple takedowns in all buy 1 of his UFC ventures.

He is coming off his UFC-best 10 completions on 15 attempts against Davis. He has completed 36 takedowns over 5 wins compared to just a single in a narrow loss.

The American might invite a striking-based fight, but Barzola has showcased noteworthy improvements in his vertical attack. Look for Enrique to utilize a variety of kicks and then throw flurries of punches to set up his takedowns.

If Aguilar can force Barzola to stand and trade, he could potentially edge him out on the feet. Unfortunately, he has had some issues with his TDD and Enrique will feast on this fact. Look for Barzola to capitalize on Aguilar’s willingness to counter, engaging and changing levels for takedowns. This fight could be close in the end, but Barzola will hold key top position time to go along with his forward pressure- my prediction is Enrique Barzola to defeat Kevin Aguilar by decision.


185lbs- Kevin Holland (13-4-0) vs Gerald Meerschaert (28-10-0)

The first televised fight of the event goes down in the Middleweight division as Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland meets Gerald “GM3″ Meerschaert. Meerschaert is coming off a submission loss to Jack Hermansson, ending his 2 fight winning streak. Holland opened with a short notice debut loss to Thiago Santos but rebounded to submit John Phillips in his most recent outing.

At 6’3”, Holland will stand 2 inches taller than “GM3″ to go along with a 4” reach advantage. Holland is the younger man by 5-years.

Meerschaert has picked up a couple of impressive come-from-behind wins, rally his way out of a slow start. In his last fight, he was unable to as his opponent overwhelmed and finished him.

An incredibly confident fighter, Holland traded on the feet with the heavy-handed Phillips before exploiting the gaps in his grappling game and snagging a submission win.

The submission win was the 6th of Holland’s career to go along with 6 wins by TKO. Meerschaert has finished 26 of his 28 wins- 20 by submission.

Gerald has also been tapped out 9-times while Holland carries a below .500 (1-3) record in decisions.

On the outside, Holland will pick Meerschaert apart with kicks and counter punches. If Gerald can drag him to the floor, he has the skills to finish the fight. Holland’s obscure and dismissive style of fighting can be concerning against the aggression of “GM3”. Ultimately, Gerald has found success once his opponents have started to fade, that won’t be the case here- my prediction is Kevin Holland to defeat Gerald Meerschaert by decision.

135lbs- Ray Borg (11-3-0) vs Casey Kenney (11-1-1)

Former Flyweight title challenger Ray “The Tazmexican Devil” Borg welcomes incredibly short notice Octagon debutant Casey Kenney to the UFC’s Bantamweight division. Borg is coming off his 2017 title fight loss to Demetrious Johnson, he had previously won 5 of 6 to earn his shot at the Flyweight crown. Kenney has won 4 in a row prior to a 1-1 stint on the Tuesday Night Contenders Series back in 2017.

Borg is moving up to Bantamweight again an opponent that has competed at both at 125 and 135 pounds. Kenney with be dealing with less than a week to prep as he is the third man slated to fight Borg. Kenney is 3 inches taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage.

“The Tazmexican Devil” is coming off his title fight loss and prolonged layoff which creates concern over the potential for a letdown in overall performance.

Coming off of back to back title wins under the LFA banner. He won the Interim-Flyweight title November and grabbed the Bantamweight strap on March 22 via brutal knockout.

The majority of Borg’s success has come on the mat; authoring either a takedown-heavy attack or submission finish. Maybe a combination of the 2. He will most likely look to take Kenney down and test his lack of preparation time by putting him in some bad spots early.

Kenney is more than willing to hit the floor, landing a number of takedowns in his LFA title win. He has recorded 4 wins by submission- all early in his pro career.

Kenney is coming in on short notice, but he will have fought just a week earlier so he is in fight mode. Borg is coming off a long layoff and returning after a title fight loss. To further complicate matters, he is moving up a division. Ray needs to get this fight to the floor with regularity. Kenney is a decent striker and can hold his own on the mat. He is also the bigger man. Borg will struggle to settle in while Kenney forces him to stand and outworks him on the feet- my prediction is Casey Kenney to defeat Ray Borg by decision.

125lbs- Maryna Moroz (8-3-0) vs Sabina Mazo (6-0-0)

Former Strawweight contender Maryna “Iron Woman” Moroz makes the move the Flyweight division to meet the debuting LFA champion Sabina “The Colombian Queen” Mazo. Mazo is coming off of back to back 5-round decision wins under the LFA banner to capture and defend the Flyweight strap. Moroz has lost back to back bouts to Angela Hill and Carla Esparza to see her UFC record fall to 3-3.

Both girls are 5’7″, but Mazo will have a 3″ reach advantage. She is 6-years younger than Maryna.

Mazo comes from a Muay Thai background and showcased those skills with a couple of brutal high kick KO wins. She does tend to be a slow starter but works her way into a kick-heavy rhythm dotted by a snappy jab.

The Ukrainian Moroz is willing to trade on the feet and is coming off of her UFC-best output of 84 significant strikes. At times she has struggled to land with consistency.

In more recent action, “The Colombian Queen” has improved her boxing, working an accurate and active overall attack that simply has been too much for her opponent’s to deal with.

Against a striker, Moroz should make an attempt to drag this fight to the floor. While her wrestling has been far from overwhelming, her opportunistic armbar game could grab her a victory.

If Moroz can’t get this fight to the floor or lure Mazo into her guard, she is going to be in for a long night. She has struggled against short opposition to find her range and often throws ineffectual combinations with limited to no chance of landing. Conversely, Mazo’s striking is much more impactful and consistent. Look for Sabina to find her range over the first few minutes before opening up her arsenal and battering her adversary with kicks- my prediction is Sabina Mazo to defeat Maryna Moroz by knockout.


135lbs- Alex Perez (21-5-0) vs Mark De La Rosa (11-1-0)

The first fight of the evening will take place in the Bantamweight division as former Flyweights Alex Perez and Mark “Bumblebee” De La Rosa collide. Perez’s 8-fight winning streak, that included a trio of UFC wins, came to an abrupt end against Joseph Benavidez via first-round TKO. De La Rosa dropped his UFC debut to Tim Elliott, but more recently scored a pair of wins including a submission of Elias Garcia.

Both men are the same height and have an identical reach. De La Rosa is the younger fighter by 2-years.

Perez put together an unreal performance in his opening round stoppage of Jose Torres, throttling Torres with 84-significant strikes in under 4-minutes.

With just a single TKO stoppage, “Bumblebee” doesn’t have the stopping power, but he is capable of doing damage on the feet. He will trade punches in close range and throws an effective low leg kick at distance.

Perez is coming off his first knockout loss.

While not unwilling to trade on the feet, De La Rosa offers a sound submission game that will force Perez to be mindful of his positioning if they hit the mat. Perez, a talented collegiate wrestler has been submitted on 3 occasions.

De La Rosa is going to struggle to find success with his grappling game against the strong wrestling of Perez. Alex has had some issues with submission defense, but they came much earlier in his career. Perez is the more impactful and active striker and will find success landing on De La Rosa with regularity. Unless the knockout loss has made Perez gunshy, the combo of his aggressive striking and wrestling will overmatch his foe- my prediction is Alex Perez to defeat Mark De La Rosa by TKO.

UFC Fight Night 148: Thompson vs Pettis

145lbs- Bryce Mitchell (10-0-0) vs Bobby Moffett (14-3-0)

In the headling act of the undercard, TUF 27 alumni Bryce “Thug Nasty” Mitchell meets fellow promotional sophomore Bobby “The Wolfman” Moffett in the Featherweight division. Moffett delivered an upset submission win over veteran Chas Skelly in his debut- he has won 4 in a row. Mitchell bested fellow cast-mate Tyler Diamond by Majority decision in his first go around in the promotion.

Both men are 5’10”. Mitchell is the younger man by 4-years.

Moffett continued his ground-based success with his 8th career win by submission; his third consecutive win by Brabo choke and 5th overall.

The submission was controversial as the referee appeared to call the fight while Skelly was still conscious and had not tapped.

Offering a similarly submission-heavy record, Mitchell has secured 8 of his 10 wins by submission. Mitchell battles his way through a grueling grappling heavy contest against Diamond. He found himself on both ends of the position transitions, just edging him out.

Moffett was in a few bad spots early against Skelly, but worked his way to a superior position in round 2 before the finish.

This fight will most likely be decided on the mat and could come down to conditioning. Moffett works at a consistent pace and Mitchell has slowed in the later rounds of action when pushed. Moffett also offers an effective low ankle kick that could pay dividends if he is able to compromise the movement of his foe. The early exchanges will see both men have their moments, but Moffett will take the contest over- my prediction is [Body_]Bobby Moffett to defeat Bryce Mitchell by decision.[/Body_1]

135lbs- Marlon Vera (12-5-1) vs Frankie Saenz (13-5-0)

In a contest scrapped during the UFC 235 fight week, Marlon “Chito” Vera prepares to take on Frankie Saenz in the Bantamweight division. Vera is coming off of a pair of stoppage wins over Wuliji Buren and more recently Guido Cannetti- he has won 5 of his last 7 fights. Saenz is also riding a 2-fight winning streak with successful outcomes versus the likes of Henry Briones and Merab Dvalishvili.

Vera is the taller fighter by 2 inches and he will also have a 4″ reach advantage. He is 12 years younger than Frankie who is replacing Thomas Almeida on a month’s notice.

At his base, Saenz builds heavily on his NCAA D-1 wrestling background. During his early UFC tenure he relies heavily on his takedown game and successfully returned to that approach in his most recent victory.

Vera is not adverse to being on the ground. A capable submission threat, “Chito” has secured 7 of his 12 wins by tap out.

While Saenz is a good wrestler, his TDD is far from perfect. He has been taken down 22 times during his UFC run including 11 in a recent split decision win.

On the feet, Vera offers a decently diverse repertoire and enough stopping power to be a threat. Saenz has struggled at times against capable strikers, suffering a pair of knockouts and getting hurt on multiple occasions.

Vera has fallen behind in recent fights only to rally and score impressive finishes. Saenz need to press him early and keeping engaging to replicate this issue. Frankie’s success has hinged upon his wrestling and he isn’t nearly as effective when it’s not an option. Vera is dangerous off his back and will make it uncomfortable for Frankie to take him down. Look for Marlon to utilize his kicks at range before closing the gap to attack from the clinch, eventually hurting his foe- my prediction is Marlon Vera to defeat Frankie Saenz by TKO.


125lbs- #5 Alexis Davis (19-8-0) vs #11 Jennifer Maia (15-5-1)

A former Bantamweight title challenger will continue to make a push for another shot at UFC gold when Canadian Alexis Davis meets fellow ranked contender Jennifer Maia in the Women’s Flyweight division. After a divisional debut victory over Liz Carmouche, Davis’s 2-fight winning streak came to an end via decision against Katlyn Chookagian. Maia came to the UFC on a 6-fight winning streak that included a pair of Invicta title defenses, but she dropped a decision to Carmouche in her Octagon debut.

The Canadian is 2 inches taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Maia is the younger girl by 4-years.

Davis is a well-rounded fighter, but opted to avoid utilizing her ground skills against Chookagian, landing just 1 of her 2 takedown attempts.

On the feet, one of Davis’s best weapons are her low kicks. In her last lost she outlanded her opponent on the feet by a count of 70 to 62.

Fighting out of Chute Boxe Academy, Maia will most likely look to keep this fight standing. Working behind a decent left jab she has just a trio of wins by knockout wins and keeps her hands tight and ready to unload.

She has struggled when pressed by a takedown-centric fighter- Carmouche took her down 3 times on 4 attempts.

Maia tends to be a little bit of a slow starter which often puts her behind on the scorecards. Davis is the more well-rounded fighter and will have a decent length advantage when trading on the feet. If Maia can draw the Canadian into a kickboxing battle, she could certainly edge her out on the cards. That being said, Davis is capable of winning this fight on the feet and will most likely augment her vertical output with well-timed takedowns and top control- my prediction is Alexis Davis to defeat Jennifer Maia by decision.


115lbs- #15 Randa Markos (8-7-1) vs Angela Hill (8-5-0)

In a fight with significant implication for both competitors, Canada’s “Quiet Storm” Rand Markos meets Angela “Overkill” Hill in the Strawweight division. Markos is coming off a draw with Marina Rodriguez ending a 12-fight streak of alternating wins and losses. Hill dropped a split decision to Cortney Casey to see her overall UFC record fall to 3-5.

Markos is an inch taller, but will give up an inch of reach to Hill. Angela is the younger fighter by a couple of months.

The Canadian has showcased her takedown proficiency. She has put her foe on the floor in all but 1 of her UFC bouts.

Hill’s TDD has been a point of vulnerability. She has been taken down in 6 of 8 UFC contests. It is worth noting that in the fight where she gave up the most takedowns (3)- she won a decision.

Where Hill has thrived is with her cardio and output. She has surpassed the century mark in significant strikes landed in each of her last 3 fights.

Markos is willing to stand and trade, but she tends to be a a little predictable often throwing from the right side. She also tends to slow down in longer fights, making her attempts to get the fight to the mat less effective.

Markos must control Hill on the mat and/or along the cage for long durations of this fight. Hill’s movement, superior cardio, impressive output are going to be problematic for Randa. The Canadian relies too much on scoring takedowns from the clinch. Even if she can find success in round 1, look for Markos to slow and struggle to close on Hill. Hill survives some tough spots early and spends the final 10-minutes countering and outlanding her foe- my prediction is Angela Hill to defeat Randa Markos by decision.


135lbs- Ryan MacDonald (10-0-0) vs Chris Gutierrez (12-4-0)

Promotional sophomore Chris Gutierrez looks for his first UFC win when he welcomes the debuting Ryan “Main Event” MacDonald to the UFC’s Bantamweight division. Gutierrez fell to Raoni Barcelos by submission in his debut- ending his 3 fight winning streak. MacDonald is undefeated, most recently securing a submission win at LFA 48 last September.

MacDonald is the taller man by 2 inches to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. He is also 2-years younger than Gutierrez.

On the regional scene, “Main Event” faced a 6-5 opponent in LFA but in his 3 previous fights, his opponents carry sub .500-records totaling 28-39.

Gutierrez showcased a decent striking attack early, utilizing movement and counter striking during the early exchanges. Unfortunately, he was unable to avoid the takedown and lost the fight off his back

He took the bout on short notice.

Despite facing lower level competition, MacDonald’s record is devoid of early finishes- he hasn’t finished an opponent in the opening round since his pro debut.  He has split his 6 finishes evenly between submissions and knockouts.

The UFC newcomer won both the MCF Bantamweight and Featherweight titles.

MacDonald is taking the fight on short notice and taking a sizable step up in competition. Conversely, Gutierrez has faced better competition, has his debut behind him, and is entering the bout on a full camp. MacDonald has struggled at times on the regional scene, including getting dropped 3-times in 1 round. Gutierrez should be able to replicate those issues- my prediction is Chris Gutierrez to defeat Ryan MacDonald by TKO.
125lbs- #12 Eric Shelton (13-5-0 1NC) vs Jordan Espinosa #15 (12-5-0)

The first of 2 Flyweight bouts on the card will feature TUF alumni Eric “Showtime” Shelton taking on the debuting, but already ranked Jordan Espinosa. Shelton is coming off a narrow split decision win over Joseph Morales improving his Octagon mark to 2-3. Espinosa went 2-0 on the Contenders Series and has won 4 in a row.

Both men stand 5’6″, but Espinosa will have a 3″ reach advantage. Shelton is the younger man by 3-years.

Espinosa won his first Contenders fight via submission- the 7th of his career. He will look for takedowns early in a fight, but showcased some capable striking when force to remain on his feet.

In similar fashion, Shelton has relied on his ground skills inside the Octagon. In his 2 UFC victories, he has completed 12 takedowns while relinquishing 16 over his 3 defeats.

“Showtime” has struggle on the scorecards; he is 5-5 on the cards including a 1-3 record in split decisions.

In his last fight, Espinosa routinely allowed his foe to push forward. He utilized sound footwork and his ability to strike while moving backwards. He scored multiple knockdowns before scoring the TKO in the final moments of the fight.

Shelton can be a bit of a frustrating fighter and his record in decisions backs that up. He struggled with the grappling attack of Morales and found himself routinely caught in near subs. Espinosa will threaten with subs and has the wrestling to replicate Shelton’s previous defensive issues. On the feet, Espinosa is the more impactful striker that will avoid the majority of Shelton’s offense while countering- my prediction is Jordan Espinosa to defeat Eric Shelton by decision (possibly split).

UFC Fight Night 147: Till vs Masvidal

145lbs- Arnold Allen (13-1-0) vs Jordan Rinaldi (14-6-0)

Fresh off of his upset of Jason Knight, New York’s Jordan Rinaldi heads into enemy territory to battle the UK’s “Almighty” Arnold Allen in the Featherweight division. Allen is perfect in the UFC with a 4-pack of victories, most recently submitting Mads Burnell. Rinaldi is 2-2 inside the Octagon, but is coming off his biggest UFC win in a 3-round decision triumph over Knight.

At 5’10”, Rinaldi is 2 inches taller than Allen to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Allen is the younger man by 7-years, but he has been on the shelf for 10-months.

The Brit is coming off a huge comeback win, scoring a late submission in a fight he was most likely behind in on the cards. It was the 4th submission win of his career and 2nd in the UFC.

Rinaldi has 8 career submission victories and put together a strong performance on the mat against Knight. He will most likely look for something similar in this matchup.

Jordan completed a trio of takedowns, 1 per round, and kept his opponent on the floor in a defensive position, including a prolong period of time on Knights’ back.

Arnold has found success on the feet in most of his fights, but he has struggled to remain vertical. Burnell took him down 6-times and Allen has given up 10 takedowns over his last 2 bouts.

After opening his UFC run at 155-pounds, Rinaldi made the cut to Featherweight with his cardio and physical strength holding up in a demanding fight.

Rinaldi used takedowns and top pressure to impressively neutralized the aggressive guard game of Knight. Juxtaposed, Arnold struggled with the well-timed takedowns of Burnell and looked frustrated and tired. He was able to pick up a comeback submission- the second time he has done that in his UFC run. Rinaldi is capable of replicating Allen’s previous struggles and has the size and experience to avoid a late charge- my prediction is Jordan Rinaldi to defeat Arnold Allen by decision.

155lbs- Marc Diakiese (12-3-0) vs Joe Duffy (16-3-0)

“Irish” Joe Duffy takes on Marc “Bonecrusher” Diakiese in a battle of talented European-based Lightweights. Diakiese started his UFC run 3-0 but has since suffered through a 3-fight losing streak that included a submission loss to Dan Hooker. Duffy has compiled a 4-2 record inside the Octagon, but he is coming off a TKO loss to James Vick.

Both men are 5’10” and share a 73″ reach. Diakiese is the younger many by 5-years. Duffy has not fought in 16-months.

Duffy is a well-rounded fighter that has only lost to top-ranked opposition. He comes from a boxing background and augments his vertical offence with a dangerous submission game.

“Irish” Joe has secured 10 wins by submission.

An explosive and dangerous striker, Diakiese knocked out 2 of his first 3 UFC opponents and 6 overall.

Similar to Duffy, “Bonecrusher” has done some decent work on the mat, including a 6 takedown performance in his only decision win in the UFC.

While Diakiese does his best work on the feet, he has a tendency to struggle when his opponents are able to force him backwards. Additionally, his cardio has cost him as he starts to slow down in drawn-out action.

Diakese has the power to put most opponents down if he can land flush, but that could be difficult here. Duffy is the more technical fighter on the feet both offensively and defensively. He will find success avoiding the bulk of Diakiese’s offence and will mix in some groundwork- my prediction is Joe Duffy to defeat Marc Diakiese by submission.


bs-[/V] Nicolae Negumereanu (9-0-0) vs Saparbek Safarov (8-2-0)

The debuting Romania Nicolae Negumereanu takes on Russia’s Saparbek Safarov in the Light Heavyweight division. Negumereanu is undefeated and went 2-0 in 2018 fighting under the RXF banner. Safarov has had rough run in the Octagon with a pair of defeats both coming via finish.

Safarov is an inch taller, but they share an equal 78″ reach. Negumereanu is the younger man by 8-years, but he is taking this fight on less than 2-weeks notice after Gokan Saki pulled out.

The Romanian has finished all 9 of his pro wins; 6 by knockout and 5 in the opening round.

Negumereanu’s recent regional opposition has been anything but solid, with his last 3 opponents carrying a combined record of 17-36.

Not to be outdone, Safaraov has never gone the distance with 6 of his 8 wins coming by knockout. He ended each of his first 7 wins inside the opening 5-minutes.

The Russian has been out of action for over 13-months.

An offense-first fighter, Saparbek moves forward behind powerful hooks and the sporadic kick. He has a tendency to get wild, but can do damage if he lands. Negumereanu will most likely oblige if this fight devolves into a brawl.

Negumereanu is debuting on short notice which is a significant concern. More concerning is his lack of high-level competition. While Safarov has not looked great in the UFC, he has faced better competition. Safarov hits and is pretty durable which could pose problems for a fighter that traditionally ends his fights quickly. This contest will most likely breakdown into a slugfest and Safarov will get the better of the exchanges- my prediction is Saparbek Safarov to defeat Nicolae Negumereanu by TKO.


185lbs- Tom Breese (11-1-0) vs Ian Heinisch (12-1-0)

After a successful Middleweight debut, Tom Breese looks to maintain his momentum against promotional sophomore Ian “The Hurricane” Heinisch. Breese finished Dan Kelly via TKO to rebound from the first loss of his pro career- he is 4-1 inside the Octagon. Heinisch stepped up to take on Cezar Ferreira and scored a victory on the cards to extend his winning streak to 4 straight.

At 6’3″, Breese will stand a full 4 inches taller than Ian but have just a single inch of reach on him. The Brit is the younger man by 3-years.

“The Hurricane” made his debut replacing Breese on short notice. For this fight, Breese was scheduled to face Alessio Di Chirico who withdrew and was replaced by the aforementioned Ferreira, who also pulled out in favour of Heinisch.

Heinisch secured the 4th knockout of his career in his Contenders fight. Against Cezar he leaned on his resiliency, consistently moving forward and breaking the Brazilian with pace and pressure.

Against Strickland, Breese slowed a little after a strong start and couldn’t match his opponent’s output. Moving up to Middleweight could avoid a similar downfall, but he wasn’t forced beyond round 1 against Kelly.

If Breese starts to slow, the American’s pace will be problematic.

The American is going to push Breese, but Tom is the more technically sound striker. Heinisch often launches forward with power punches, failing to set up his offence. Breese will find success attacking him on the outside and countering as he comes forward.

If Heinisch can score takedowns with regularity, he could provide just enough vertical offence to edge out a narrow decision. Conversely, Breese is a solid wrestler in his own right and Heinisch has had issues against opponents that look to take him down. Fighting at home with a full camp will aid the Brit who will offer a more consistent offensive package- my prediciton is Tom Breese to defeat Ian Heinisch by decision.


145lbs- Danny Henry (12-2-0) vs Dan Ige (10-2-0)

Scotlands’ Danny “The Hatchet” Henry looks to continue his perfect start inside the Octagon when he takes on Hawaii’s “Dynamite” Dan Ige in the Featherweight division. Henry holds wins over Daniel Teymur and Hakeem Dawodu- he has won 5 in a row. Ige debuted with a loss to Julio Arce but has since won a pair of fights to get back on track.

Henry is a full 5 inches taller than Ige to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Ige is 3-years younger than “The Hatchet”.

A BJJ Black belt, Ige has put his ground skills to work in recent action. A combined 4 takedowns over 2 fights have produced a quick submission and decision win.

Ige struggled in his debut to find success with his takedowns and similar to that fight, Henry will want to force him to compete on the feet.

Henry does have 5 wins by submission, but he had some issues on the regional scene defending takedowns. He has yet to face a dedicate ground fighter in either of his UFC appearances.

The Scot has a decent striking repertoire and proved his durability in his debut, surviving the onslaught of his opponent and taking over as Teymur slowed down.

Henry hasn’t seen action in a year less a day come fight night.

Henry can operate on the mat, but that might be just enough to get himself in trouble. Ige has decent takedowns, but he is better in a scramble. If the Scot doesn’t disengage, he will most likely find himself in the inferior position. If Henry can keep this fight standing he could work his way to a decision, but Ige’s pressure won’t allow it- my prediction is Dan Ige to defeat Danny Henry by decision.


125lbs- Molly McCann (7-2-0) vs Priscila Cachoeira (8-1-0)

After a pair of unsuccessful debuts, promotional sophomores Molly “Meatball’ McCann and Priscila Cachoeira of Brazil square off in Flyweight division. McCann had won 6 in a row prior to her submission to Gillian Robertson at UFC Fight Night 130. Cachoeira faced now champion Valentina Shevchenko and was blown out on route to a middle round submission defeat.

Cachoeira is 3 inches taller than the Brit and will have a 3” reach advantage. “Meatball” is the younger fighter by 2-years.

Both girls carry similar records, with all their wins split between knockouts and decisions. Not surprisingly, their debut defeats came as a result of their opponents exploiting them on the mat.

McCann has finished 2 of her 4 knockouts in the opening frame. She is an aggressive striker carrying decent power in her left hand.

The Brazilian is equally, if not more aggressive and has found success overwhelming her opponents on the regional scene.

While Cachoeira has just a pair of first-round stoppages, her style has led to her slow down in more drawn out fights.

Neither fighter was able to showcase much of their skill in their debut and if either woman opts to try and exploit their adversaries’ ground game they could grind their way to a win. All indications are that this fight will be contested on the feet. McCann is the more technical striker and Cachoeira’s blind aggression will be difficult to maintain over 3-rounds. After some entertaining exchanges early, Molly pulls away in the 2nd and 3rd rounds- my prediction is Molly McCann to defeat Priscila Cachoeira by decision.


145lbs- Nad Narimani (12-2-0) vs Mike Grundy (11-1-0)

The opening fight of the night features 2-fight UFC veteran Nad Narimani taking on the debuting Mike Grundy in the Featherweight division. Narimani holds wins over Khalid Taha and Anderson dos Santos- both by decision. Grundy went 3-0 in 2017, most recently defeating UFC alumni Fernando Bruno- his only career defeat came in 2017 versus Damian Stasiak.

Narimani is an inch taller but Grundy will have a 2″ reach advantage. Grundy has not competed in 16-months.

Medaling at the Commonwealth games in Freestyle wrestling, Grundy has converted his skills to a successful takedown and submission-heavy MMA game.

He has finished 8 of 11 wins by submission- mainly by some form of choke.

In a similar fashion, Narimani has finished 5 opponents by submission and has leaned heavily on his takedown game in his 2 Octagon triumphs.

Nad has completed 7 of 16 takedown attempts.

In Narimani’s most recent outing he was forced to rely more on his striking and landed a respectable 84 significant strikes.

Grundy is a capable ground fighter, but his reliance on takedowns makes him a little too one-dimensional. If forced to exchange on the feet, Narimani should have the advantage over his fellow-countryman. The layoff and debut factors for Grundy can’t be discredited here either. Grundy might find some early success, but Nad will stifle the majority of his TDAs and work him over on the feet- my prediciton is [Body-1]Nad Narimani to defeat Mike Grundy by decision.[/Body_1]

UFC Fight Night 146: Dos Sanots vs Lewis

170lbs- Anthony Martin (14-4-0) vs Sergio Moraes (13-4-1)

Undercard main event features the reborn Anthony Rocco Martin taking on Brazilian grappling ace Sergio “Panther” Moraes in the Welterweight division. Martin has won 3 in a row, all since moving up from Lightweight- he is coming off a submission of Jake Matthews. Moraes earned a submission win over Ben Saunders for his 2nd straight win, the Brazilian has just a single loss (to the current champion) over his last 10 fights.

Both men are 6’0″ while Martin will have a 1″ reach advantage. Her is 7-years younger than Sergio.

The curious case of Sergio Moraes saw him go roughly 5-years between submission wins. The elite BJJ Black belt has recorded just 3 wins by sub in 11 UFC contests,

The total number of the American’s UFC submission wins aren’t overwhelming either. Martin has 9 career victories by sub, but just 3 of his 7 UFC wins have come via tap out.

The one considerable difference lies in Martin’s 2 submission losses while Sergio has never lost via sub.

Moraes is the first to submit Saunders, utilizing a smothering top game leading to the finish. Previously, Moraes had focussed heavily on his striking attack. He is erratic, but aggressive on the feet which is frustrating considering how good he is on the mat.

Martin’s win over Matthews saw him capitalize on a tired fighter in the final round, jumping on a sub as Jake faded. Martin has previously had issues with cardio, often fading after the first frame- but has since improved that aspect of his game.

If Martin can keep Sergio on the outside, he could jab his way to win. Conversely, the wild nature of Moraes will lend itself to both edging Martin out with volume and creating some scramble opportunities. Sergio would be best served to grapple early and make Martin work. Even if Martin survives the early grappling exchange, it will tire him out and make him less aggressive on the feet. Either way, Moraes is too good to overlook on the mat- my prediction is Sergio Moraes to defeat Tony Martin by decision.

135lbs- #6 Marion Reneau (9-4-1) vs #9 Yana Kunitskaya (11-4-0 1NC)

Former Featherweight title challenger and Invicta Bantamweight Champion Yana Kunitskaya looks to continue her momentum when she battles the also tough Mario Reneau. Reneau is coming off a decision loss to Cat Zingano, closing the book on a 4 fight undefeated stretch (3-0-1). Kunitskaya dropped her debut to Cris Cyborg, but returned to 135 to best Lina Lansberg on the scorecards.

Both girls are 5’6″ and share a 68″ reach. Kunitskaya is 12-years younger than Reneau.

The Russian comes from a striking background but has utilized her grappling attack in recent action. Yana recorded 5 takedowns against Lansberg- utilizing a well-executed throw from the clinch.

Reneau has struggled with takedown oriented fighters. She has been taken down in each of her last 7 fights, losing the takedown battle 17-2.

Despite her struggles on the mat, Marion has showcased her ability to rally with multiple stoppage wins after getting off to a slow start. She owns a 3-pack of submission wins- 2 in the UFC.

Kunitskaya has finished 7 opponents by knockout with just a trio of decision wins. Offering an extended attack, she showcased a consistent offensive flow against Lansberg that carried her to a wide decision win.

Conversely, Reneau has struggled on the cards at 1-4-1, failing to outwork her adversaries in close fights.

If Yana can pile up the takedowns and/or Marion pulls guard too often, Reneau will struggle to overcome that deficit with her striking output. Even if the fight is contested on the feet, Kunitskaya has power and decent striking technique capable of leading her to a win. While Reneau could catch her off her back, Yana has more consistent weapons to work with- my prediction is Yana Kunitskaya to defeat Marion Reneau by decision.

145lbs- Julian Erosa (22-6-0) vs Grant Dawson (12-1-0)

In search of his first UFC win since 2015, Julian Erosa will welcome the debuting Grant Dawson in the Featherweight division. Erosa suffered a 46-second knockout loss to Devonte Smith- he had won 3 in a row and 7 of 9 on the regional scene. Dawson has won a trio of fights since suffering his first career loss, he was last seen scoring a submission win on the Tuesday Night Contenders Series.

At 6’1″, Erosa is 3 inches taller than Dawson to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Dawson is the younger man by 5-years, but he has been out of action for 19-months.

Dawson, a Team Alpha Male product, carries a submission heavy record- ending 9 of 12 wins by tap out. He has fought beyond the 3-minute mark of the 2nd frame just once.

While Dawson will be looking for a takedown from the opening bell, Erosa’s struggles in the UFC have come largely on the feet. Julian has been knocked out in both of his Octagon defeats and 3-times overall.

He has recorded 10 wins by knockout and 9 by sub.

Erosa has an awkward style; he hangs his hands low while moving in and out of range looking to trade.

His low hands and lacklustre striking defence have resulted in the multiple knockout defeats, but that might not be a concern against Dawson grappling-heavy attack. That being said, Grant can do some damage with his top position striking attack.

It is hard to overlook the deficiency’s of a fighter with a questionable chin, below average defence, and poor utilization of his physical advantages. That being said, If Erosa can keep this fight standing, he could work his way to a victory. Dawson’s consistent takedowns and solid top game are overwhelming and Erosa has some shaky TDD. Dawson gets in a single leg dumps, Julian to the mat, and works his way to his back- my prediction is Grant Dawson to defeat Julian Erosa by submission.

265lbs- Maurice Greene (6-2-0) vs Jeff Hughes (10-1-0)

Originally slated to feature Jeff “Lights Out” Hughes debuting against Daniel Spitz, Maurice Greene steps up on short notice to rematch Hughes from their 2018 LFA 38 title fight. After his run on TUF 28, Greene made a successful UFC debut with a submission victory over Michel Batista to rebound from his loss to Hughes. Hughes has won 4 consecutive fights; beating Greene and then Josh Appelt on the Contenders Series.

At 6’7″, Greene is 5 inches taller than Hughes to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Hughes is the younger man by 2-years and will most likely weigh-in 5-10 pounds lighter.

Hughes carries a solid pace and in both his Contenders’ win and his title fight against Greene, he was able to push his opponent at a rate that they were unable to match.

He is 5-0 in decisions and including a pair of 5 round Champion wins.

Greene’s MMA career has been little bit of an enigma. He is coming off a submission win over a former Olympic wrestler- the 4th of his career compared to just a single knockout.

The big man comes from a kickboxing background but has invested time into developing his BJJ.

In there first meeting Greene had his moments, utilizing clinch based strikes while Hughes won key rounds with takedowns and top control.

Hughes is a self-admitted slow starter, but he overcame that last time out and will need to do so here as well. Greene has added some decent experience with his time on TUF, but the short notice scenario is not ideal against an opponent that is going to push him hard bell to bell. Hughes needs to be mindful of the guard game of Green if he relies on his TDs, but he should be able to replicate his prior success- my prediction is Jeff Hughes to defeat Maurice Greene by decision.

135lbs- Louis Smolka (15-5-0) vs Matt Schnell (12-4-0)

Former Flyweights Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka and “Danger” Matt Schnell meet in the Bantamweight division. Smolka made his return to the promotion at 135-pounds and earned a dominant submission victory over the debuting Su Mudaerji- he is 6-5 in UFC. Schnell has won back to back fights after dropping the first 2 fights of his UFC tenure.

Smolka is an inch taller, but Schnell will have a 2″ reach advantage. Smolka is the older man by a year.

“Danger” is coming off a striking-based victory, landing his personal UFC-best 71 significant strikes. Despite his 5 wins by submission and first 2 UFC defeats came via opening round TKO, he will most likely look to keep this fight standing.

Smolka has turned his pace and transition grappling attack into a dangerous weapon. “Da Last Samurai” will drag his adversary into a grappling exchange and work until he gets the finish.

Conversely, he is a “suicide grappler”, relinquishing takedowns and position in an attempt to drag his foe into a grappling match.

He lost 4 consecutive fights; 1 by submission and trio of decisions with a combined 19 takedowns given up.

If Schnell can stay standing, that could be his key to victory. It also opens him up to another knockout loss. Smolka is going to dive on a single leg and look to pull Matt to the floor, but if he gives up position “Danger” could submit him. Ultimately, Smolka is more durable and should find success capitalizing on Schnell’s questionable TDD- my prediction is Louis Smolka to defeat Matt Schnell by submission.

170lbs- Alex Morono (15-5-0)vs Zak Ottow (17-6-0)

The second fight of the night features a pair of Welterweights looking to gain a foothold in the division as “The Great White” Alex Morono battles Zak “The Barbarian” Ottow. Morono is coming off a victory over Kenan Song to improve his UFC mark to 4-2-0 with 1 No Contest. Ottow defeated Dwight Grant and is now 4-3 inside the Octagon.

Both men are 5’11” and share a 72″ reach. Morono is the younger man by 4-years.

Beyond a TKO win over Mike Pyle, the majority of Ottow’s UFC performances have been underwhelming. “The Barbarian” is 3-1 in UFC decisions with all 4 fights ending in a split.

Morono has had similar results, going the distance 5-times and winning 3. Over his career, Alex is 1-3 in split decisions.

Ottow does his best work on the mat and will most likely look to take Morono to the floor. Despite recording 6 wins by submission, Alex has suffered through a pair of defeats where he relinquished multiple takedowns.

Conversely, Ottow has landed more than a single completion just once in his UFC career.

The vertical output of Morono will be his key to success. He should have a noteworthy edge in striking skill and volume compared to his foe.

Unless Ottow finds more consistency with his wrestling, he won’t be able to ground Morono long enough to grind out a decision. Alex’s aggression will keep Zak on his back foot and his volume will simply be too much for Ottow to match- my prediction is Alex Morono to defeat Zak Ottow by decision.


155lbs- Alex White (12-5-0) vs Dan Moret (13-4-0)

The first fight of the night transpires int he Lightweight division between “The Spartan” Alex White and promotional sophomore Dan “The Hitman” Moret. White is coming off of a submission loss to Jim Miller and has struggled through a 3-5 tenure inside the Octagon. Moret lost to Gilbert Burns in his debut appearance, snapping a 2-fight winning streak.

Both men are 6’0″, but Moret will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. White is the younger fighter by 2-years.

Moret suffered the 2nd knockout loss of his career against Burns. Ideally, he does his best work on the mat with 8 wins by submission and will most likely try to take White to the floor.

White’s loss to Miller was his first by submission.

Despite splitting his 10 finishes evenly between submissions and knockouts, White has primarily focussed on his striking in the UFC. He has picked up 2 of 3 Octagon wins by knockout.

White will want to keep this fight standing to both capitalize on his superior striking skills and avoid the grappling offence of White. Alex has been taken down in each of his last 4 defeats; 9 takedowns in total.

This contest will come down to whether or not Moret can find success taking White to the mat. Moret will engage on the feet, but lacks power and is defensively vulnerable. White hits pretty hard and he offers a more diverse offence. White is the better athlete and appears to be the larger man as well. Alex might have to fend off some early TDAs, but he will eventually force Moret into trading- my prediction is Alex White to defeat Dan Moret by TKO.

UFC 235: JONES vs SMITH

145lbs- #6 Jeremy Stephens (28-15-0) vs #13 Zabit Magomedsharipov (17-1-0)

The final preliminary bout features future contender Zabit Magomedsharipov facing feared knockout artist and 29-fight UFC veteran Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens. Magomedsharipov is 4-0 in the UFC with a trio of submission wins including his most recent win over Brandon Davis. Stephens is coming off a crush TKO loss to former Champion Jose Aldo- he had won 3 in row before the defeat.

At 6’1″, Magomedsharipov is the taller man by 5 inches, but he will have just a 2″ reach advantage. Jeremy is the older fighter by 5-years.

Stephens has made concerning comments in the media regarding his mindset after the Aldo loss. He has struggled against elite level competition, losing to the likes of Max Holloway, Frankie Edgar, and the aforementioned Aldo.

For Zabit, the question remains- is he elite?

The Russian offers a diverse offensive attack, melding together a strong ground attack and solid striking repertoire. He has recorded 6 wins by knockout and 7 by submission.

While Magomedsharipov offers a varied offensive front, Stephens is best known for his fight-stopping power. Jeremy has finished 19 opponents by knockout, and if he lands he can put almost anyone down.

Conversely, Stephens is 7-10 in decisions. While Stephens has worked toward expanding his offensive offerings by integrating more kicks and wrestling, against more diversified strikers he has struggled. Jeremy will chase the knockout and can fall behind on the scorecards as a result.

Zabit effectively utilizes his reach, fighting his opponents on the outside and has completed 23 takedowns once the action starts to transpire at close range

Stephens represents a step up in competition for Magomedsharipov. If he can land a big shot early he could change the complexion of the fight. Unfortunately, he is going to struggle to get into range with consistency and his wrestling won’t be an option as Magomedsharipov is too good on the floor. Zabit will frustrate him on the outside and force Stephens to take desperate low percentage chances- my prediction is Zabit Magomedsharipov to defeat Jeremy Stephens by decision.

205lbs- #14 Misha Cirkunov (14-4-0) vs #15 Johnny Walker (13-3-0)

The surging Johnny Walker makes a quick turnaround as he returning to face Latvian-born Canadian Misha Cirkunov in the Light Heavyweight division. Walker is 2-0 in the UFC, most recently putting down Justin Ledet in just 15-seconds. Cirkunov is coming off an impressive submission win over Patrick Cummins to end a 2-fight losing streak- he is 5-2 in the promotion.

Walker is replacing the injured Ovince Saint Preux on 3 weeks notice and last fought just a month ago. The 6’5″ Brazilian is 2 inches taller than Cirkunov to go along with a 5″ reach advantage. Walker is the younger man by 5-years.

Misha success has been a product of his stellar grappling game. Based in Judo and BJJ, he has averaged 4.53 takedowns per fight and finished each of his last 3 wins by submission.

Equally as impressive has been the finishing rate of Walker, including 13 wins by knockout. Johnny utilized close range elbows to score the finish in his debut and a spinning back fist to put his most recent adversary on the floor.

The key to his fight will be gap management. Cirkunov does his best work from the clinch, landing short strikes and setting up his takedowns. Conversely, Walker likes to use kicks and range weapons to target his opponent on the outside.

Walker’s UFC fights have been abrupt, but during his Contender’s bout he went the distance and tired significantly in the second half of the fight. If Misha can utilize his grinding clinch attack, he could exhaust and overwhelm the Brazilian.

Misha has been finished in both of his UFC defeats, raising questions about his ability to deal with adversity and damage.

Walker’s quick finishes still leave a lot of questions unanswered. If Misha can get him to the floor either with a takedown or by capitalizing on one of Johnny’s high-risk manoeuvres, he can end this one quick. Conversely, Cirkunov’s striking is still a little stiff and he will struggle to get into range against the longer foe. Walker will keep Misha on the outside, eventually hurting Cirkunov when he attempts to close the distance- my prediction is Johnny Walker to defeat Misha Cirkunov by TKO.


135lbs- #12 Cody Stamann (17-2-0) vs #13 Alejandro Perez (22-6-1)

In a battle of closely ranked Bantamweights, Cody Stamann looks to rebound from a difficult defeat when he takes on Mexico’s own Alejandro Perez. Stamann started his UFC career with a trio of wins before running into Aljamain Sterling who submitted him in round 2. Perez is undefeated in his last 7 fights, compiling an impressive 7-1-1 record inside the Octagon.

Both fighters stands 5’6″, but Perez has a 3-inch longer reach. Stamann is replacing Yadong Song with less than 2-month to prepare.

Perez has compiled an impressive run over a series of closely contested fights. Over his last 5 fights, Perez has outlanded his foe by more than 5 significant strikes on just 1 occasion.

The American has relied on a takedown-heavy attack, completing 15 takedowns over 4 fights. A ground-heavy approach could be a key weapon against Perez who has been subbed 3-times and taken down more twice on 3 different occasions.

In his win over Matthew Lopez, Alejandro struggled with Lopez’s wrestling in the opening round. It wasn’t until Lopez’s faded that Perez was able to take over.

Stamann is a solid wrestler and while he has struggled with maintaining top position, he is persistent and will continue to shoot for takedowns throughout the fight.

Perez has a tendency to allow his opponents to dictate the exchanges, opting to sit back and counter. This is a major contributor to the narrow striking totals and contestable decision wins.

Perez has benefited from some questionable decisions in close fights. That ends here. Stamann’s aggressive wrestling, pressure based striking, and solid gas tank will be too much for Perez to overcome. Unless Alejandro can hurt Cody early, Stamann will simply outwork him- my prediction is Cody Stamman to defeat Alejandro Perez by decision.


170lbs- Diego Sanchez (30-11-0) vs Mickey Gall (5-1-0)

The first televised preliminary bout features the return of the “Nightmare” Diego Sanchez as he takes on submission ace Mickey Gall in the Welterweight division. Sanchez is coming off his first win in roughly 2-years, earning a decision victory over Craig White. Gall scored a 69-second submission win over George Sullivan to improve to 4-1 in the UFC.

Gall is 11-years younger than Diego, standing 4 inches taller with 2″ reach advantage.

Diego’s fighting style is well documented. He is a brawler with strong submission defence and a diminishing level of durability.

His wins over White, Marcin Held, and Jim Miller came largely because Sanchez was able to defend their grappling attack and control top position. That will be the key against Gall who has secured all 5 of his pro wins by sub.

More specifically, all of Mickey’s wins have come by rear-naked choke. His only loss came in a fight where he was unable to consistently control his opponent on the mat and faded.

Gall will utilize multiple forms of takedowns and is an aggressive guard passer. For Sanchez, he is not easy to get off of his feet- giving up just 3 takedowns over his last 7 fights.

Mickey has showcased very little beyond his dominant position submission skills. Brown exploited his lack of diversity by putting him on his back and outworking him. Sanchez’s durability is a concern, but his wrestling and BJJ are not. Gall doesn’t appear to have the striking needed to exploit Diego on the feet and Sanchez has shown he can shut down skilled grapplers with his top game- my prediction is Diego Sanchez to defeat Mickey Gall by decision.

185lbs- Edmen Shahbazyan (6-0-0) vs Charles Byrd (9-5-0)

In the final fight of the FightPass Prelims, undefeated Edmen Shahbazyan meets “Kid Dynamite” Charles Byrd in the Middleweight division. Shahbazyan made a successful debut, defeating Darren Stewart by split decision. Byrd bested John Phillips in his first UFC outing, but fell to the aforementioned Stewart by middle frame TKO.

At 6’2″, the 21-year-old Shahbazyan is the taller man by 4 inches. He is 14-years younger than his foe.

A graduate of the Tuesday Night Contenders Series, Shahbazyan came into the UFC on the strength of 7 straight first-round knockout wins. He promptly went the distance in his debut.

Compiling a 2-0 record on the Contender’s circuit, Byrd’s submission win in his UFC debut was his 3rd consecutive and 5th overall.

Despite his knockout heavy record, Edmen offered a grappling-centric attack versus Stewart. He utilized a clinch and well-timed takedowns to control the fight.

Conversely, he didn’t mount much offence and was warned by the official for inactivity. As the fight went deeper, he slowed considerably. Byrd was taken down several times in his Contenders’ fights, but utilized his grapplings skills to earn the victory in both.

Shahbazyan built his record against some lower level opposition and capitalized on a frustrated and defensively vulnerable Stewart. Byrd’s submission and takedown skills are sound and he is the better athlete with a decent set of hands. Edmen gassed hard despite dictating the grappling exchanges and Byrd should make him work harder if he opts to go that route. Look for Shahbazyan’s lack of long fight experience to catch up to him- my prediction is Charles Byrd to defeat Edmen Shahbazyan by submission.

135lbs- Gina Mazany (5-2-0) vs Macy Chiasson (3-0-0)

In the Women’s Bantamweight division, TUF 28 winner Macy Chiasson makes her UFC divisional debut when she meets TUF 18 alumni Gina Mazany. Chiasson is coming off her debut and TUF tournament victory over Pannie Kianzad at Featherweight. Mazany is 1-2 in the UFC, defeating Yana Wu, but most recently dropping a decision to Lina Lansberg.

Chiasson is 5 inches taller than Gina and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Macy is the younger fighter by 3 years.

With the Woman’s Featherweight division appearing finished, Chiasson is taking a stab at making the cut to 135 pounds. Her desire to stay in the UFC could create a bad weight cutting scenario that severely impacts her performance.

If she can make the cut without issue, she will have a physical edge over most women in the division.

The only UFC win on Mazany’s record came on the basis of her takedown game. She completed 5 of 7 shots on route to a decision victory. Against Lansberg, she wasn’t nearly as active with her wrestling but still landed both her attempts.

In the TUF final, Chiasson showcased a decent sprawl and a swift back take once she had her foe overextended.

On the feet, Macy works well at range, but offers her best offence in the clinch with elbows, knees, and dirty boxing.

Mazany’s grinding wrestling attack could allow her to capitalize on Chiasson if the weight cut goes poorly. If not, Gina is going to struggle to find success with her takedowns. Chiasson will bust her up at range and do damage from the clinch. Look for Mazany to get desperate with her TDAs and Maci to capitalize- my prediction is Maci Chiasson to defeat Gina Mazany by submission.

115lbs- Polyana Viana (10-2-0) vs Hannah Cifers (8-3-0)

The first fight of the night and 1 of 3 female bouts sees Brazilian Polyana Viana taking on Hannah “Shockwave” Cifers in the Women’s Strawweight division. Vianna lost by decision to JJ Aldrich to drop her UFC record to 1-1 Cifers is making her sophomore appearance after suffering a middle frame TKO loss to Maycee Barber last November.

The Brazilian is 4 inches taller than Cifers and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Polyana is the older girl by just 2 weeks.

A decorated BJJ competitor, Viana has finished all 10 of her wins- 6 by submission. Cifers has recorded 5 wins by TKO- 4 in the opening frame.

Polyana’s UFC success has not surprisingly hinged on her mat game. In her debut, she secured an early takedown and scored the submission, but against Aldrich she completed just 1 of 5 takedowns and lost on the cards.

Cifers offers a Muay Thai based attack and needs to keep this fight standing to capitalize on her power. Polyana’s has a lot of holes in her standup; hanging her hands and leaving her head up and exposed while throwing single strikes.

Viana has finished all but 1 of her pro wins in the opening round, while carrying a 1-2 record beyond the first 5-minutes. She appeared to tire against Aldrich as the fight advanced and struggled to mount much offense.

The American made her debut on short notice and did an admirable job defending the clinch based TDAs of her opponent. Viana will look for takedowns from the clinch, but if she can’t get her opponent down- her striking leaves a lot to be desired. Cifers is a capable striker and has a far better track record outside of the

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 145: BLACHOWICZ vs SANTOS

170lbs- Dwight Grant (7-1-0) vs Carlo Pedersoli (11-1-0)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, Dwight Grant makes his second UFC walk across the cage from Carlo Pedersoli in the Welterweight division. Grant dropped a debut split decision loss to Zak Ottow, the first defeat of his pro career. Pedersoli is 1-1 in the UFC, edging out a split decision over Bradley Scott before suffering a crush 39-second knockout to Alex Oliveira.

Grant is the taller fighter by 2 inches to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Pedersoli is 9-years younger than his foe.

A striker by trade, Grant has finished 6 opponents by knockout including stopping his Tuesday Night Contenders’ opponent. In his UFC debut, he failed to offer a consistent striking attack, landing just 25 significant strikes.

Pedersoli offers both a more diverse record and attack which is key to his success in this fight. In his debut victory, he utilized his takedowns to effectively grind score points in a close fight.

Both of Carlo’s Octagon bouts have been taken on short notice.

Grant has a tendency to allow his opponent to dictate the pace of the action but often makes up for it with his power and ability to counter strike. In addition to the Oliveria knockout, Pedersoli was dropped early by Scott and could be vulnerable to Grant’s stopping power.

With a full camp to prepare, Pedersoli should put forth his best UFC performance to date. His kicking arsenal is a serviceable foil to the punching power of Grant, but it might only take one shot to turn the fight in Dwight’s favour. Look for Pedersoli to offer the busier output, utilizing kicks to maintain distance and then closing for timely takedowns- my prediction is Carlo Pedersoli to defeat Dwight Grant by decision.

145lbs- Daniel Teymur (6-2-0) vs Chris Fishgold (17-2-1)

A pair of European-based fighters square off as Sweden’s Daniel “Kid Dynamite” Teymur meets UK competitor Chris Fishgold in the Featherweight division. Teymur is 0-2 in the UFC, most recently suffering a 3rd round submission loss to Julio Arce. Fishgold came into the UFC against Kalvin Kattar, starting strong but going down via TKO before the first bell- he had won 7 in a row.

Fishgold is 3 inches taller, but Teymur will have a 1″ reach advantage. The Brit is the older fighter by 4-years.

Teymur has finished all 6 of his pro wins, split evenly between submissions and knockout- all in round 1. In both of UFC fights, his defeats were connected to the length of the fight. He slowed in both bouts.

While Fishgold does have a lot of finishes on his record, he is the more experienced and successful fighter in longer fights. If he can draw upon that experience against Teymur, he could find a sizeable advantage in a longer fight.

Building the majority of his attack around his striking, Teymur needs to keep this fight standing. He has had issues on the mat and Fishgold has won the majority of his fights on the mat.

Fishgold did have some early success against Kattar, backing him up on the feet. That being said, he also took some damage on the feet before getting dropped and finished.

Teymur is dangerous early and if he can hurt his adversary, he could smash his way to victory. Fishgold’s keys to victory are his diversity and pace. Look for him to push forward and blend together his grappling and striking attack. Teymur can be taken down and once on the mat, his questionable gas tank will start drain- my prediction is Chris Fishgold to defeat Daniel Teymur by submission.


125lbs- Veronica Macedo (5-2-1) vs Gillian Robertson (5-3-0)

Canadian Gillian “The Savage” Robertson makes her 4th Octagon walk when she takes on Venezuela-born Veronic Macedo in the Flyweight division. Robertson started her UFC run with a pair of stoppage victories, including a debut submission of Emily Whitmire. Macedo is winless in 2 UFC bouts, falling via TKO to Ashlee Evans-Smith and dropping a decision to Andrea Lee last time out.

Macedo will have an inch reach advantage, but the Canadian is the taller fighter by an inch.

Robertson has put together a pair of ground-oriented victories. She put both of her opponents on the floor and worked them over prior to securing submission wins #3 and 4 of her career.

The grappling attack of Robertson is definitely a concern for Macedo who gave up a combined 5 takedown in her first 2 UFC fights and was finished on the floor by AES.

Veronica comes from a Taekwondo background and offers a decent kicking attack. She does her best work at range, but she has a tendency to move forward into the clinch which in turn sets up takedown opportunities for her adversary.

Robertson is coming off a submission loss, failing to capitalize on her early success and getting tapped with just 5-seconds left in the opening round.

If Macedo can keep this fight at distance, she could strike her way to a decision win. Unfortunately, Robertson has good timing on her takedowns and is an aggressive guard passer once she hits the mat. Macedo has yet to show she can handle a ground-oriented fighter and Robertson should find success exploiting the gaps in her defense- my prediction is Gillian Robertson to defeat Veronic Macedo by decision.


155lbs- Damir Hadzovic (12-4-0) vs Marco Polo Reyes (7-5-0)

A pair of Performance of the Night winners square off as Mexico’s Marco Polo Reyes takes on “The Bosnian Bomber” Damir Hadzovic in the Lightweight division. Reyes is coming off of a 60-second knockout of Matt Frevola to improve his UFC record to 4-1. Hadzovic scored a split decision win over Nick Hein last July to even his record at 2-2.

Reyes is 2 inches taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. Hadzovic is the younger fighter by 2-year. Marco hasn’t seen action in 13-months.

Hadzovic and Reyes both carry knockout heavy records, each finishing 6 opponents by knockout.

Prior to stopping Marcin Held, “The Bosnian Bomber” struggled with the mat game of Held and relinquished 9 takedowns in his loss to Alan Patrick. Reyes has yet to showcase his ground skills in the UFC and had similar defensive issues early in his UFC run.

Both men have also suffered knockouts in the UFC, Reyes stopped my James Vick and Hadzovic going down in his debut to Mairbek Taisumov.

Hadzovic narrowly got by Hein, but that level of output won’t cut it against the more aggressive Reyes. Marco can crack and works at a greater rate of output than his Bosnian counterpart. Reyes also could have a slight edge in power and durability. Look for Reyes to land both the more impactful and frequent strikes, backing Hadzovic up in a firefight- my prediction is Marco Polo Reyes to defeat  Damir Hadzovic by TKO.


170lbs- Michel Prazeres (25-2-0) vs Ismail Naurdiev (17-2-0)

An early February injury forced Ramazan Emeev to withdraw from competition, creating the opportunity for Austria’s Ismail Naurdiev to make his debut against the hulking Brazilian Michel Prazeres. Naurdiev has strung together an impressive 13-1 run including a knockout win over UFC vet Benny Alloway. Prazeres has won 8 in a row, including a vicious stoppage of Bartosz Fabinski.

Prazeres’s struggles with making the Lightweight limit forced him to 170 where he will give up 4 inches of height and a sizeable 7 inches of reach. Naurdiev is also the younger fighter by 15-years.

The Brazilian has built his UFC run around a strong ground game and heavy hands. He has taken down all of his UFC opponents, completing 26 takedowns over his current winning streak.

Ismail is stepping in with less than 3-weeks to prep, but he fought just 3 weeks prior to the Prague event- scoring a 39-second knockout.

Naurdiev has finished 13 opponents in the first frame, 11 by knockout. He throws a variety of techniques, including a recent stoppage via spinning wheel kick.

There are some concerns here for the Brazilian; the travel factor, opponent change, and facing a much taller man could impact his performance. If Naurdiev is able to maintain distance, he could land a fight-altering strike. Unfortunately, the Austrian’s most recent defeat came largely in response to a grappling-based attack. Prazeres grounds him early and eventually works to the finish- my prediction is Michel Prazeres to defeat Ismail Naurdiev by submission.


155lbs- Rustam Khabilov (23-3-0) vs Diego Ferreira (13-2-0)

In a demonstration of the depth of the Lightweight division, formerly ranked Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov takes on Brazil’s Carlos Ferreira. Khabilov has secured 6 consecutive wins, including a split decision over Kajan Johnson in his most recent fight. Ferreira returned to activity to stop Kyle Nelson for his 3rd straight win and 5th UFC triumph.

The Brazilian is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. Khabilov is the younger man by a year.

Both fighters come from grappling based backgrounds but have employed their skills in different ways.

Khabilov has completed at least 1 takedowns in all of his UFC fights; 38 completions over 11 fights.

A BJJ Black belt, Ferreira has just a single submission in the UFC, using the threat of his grappling skills to force his foe to stand and trade. Diego did opt for a takedown based attack against Nelson after the early exchanges.

“Tiger” is coming off of a contestable decision that saw him struggle to find his striking range, landing just 17 significant strikes while relying on his wrestling to make up the difference.

While Khabilov has been inconsistent on the feet, Diego has picked up a pair of vertical finishes, including an impressive stoppage of Jared Gordon.

Khabilov has been able to cover up his lack of striking volume with his wrestling. Against Ferreira, that might not be an option. Diego’s forward aggression and punching power will give him the edge on the feet and his BJJ will make it difficult for Rustam to keep him on the mat. This fight could be scored close, but my prediction is Diego Ferreira to defeat Rustam Khabilov by decision.

155lbs- Damir Ismagulov (16-2-0) vs Joel Alvarez (15-14-0)

To open the event, promotional sophomore Damir Ismagulov takes on the debuting Spanish submission artist Joel Alvares in the Lightweight division. Ismagulov earned a decision win over Alex Gorgees in his debut to extend his current winning streak to 12 straight wins. Alvarez enters the Octagon on an impressive 10-fight winning streak, including 4 victories in 2018.

A towering Lightweight, Alvarez is 6’3″ and will stand 5 inches taller than his opponent. He is the younger fighter by 3-years.

The Spaniard carries a submission heavy record, finishing 14 of his 15 wins by tap out. Alvarez has stopped 10 opponents in the first frame and 7 of his submission wins have come by triangle choke.

In his debut, Ismagulov completed 5 takedowns on route to a decision victory. With just a single submission win, Damir will need to be mindful of his opponent’s offensive ground game if they hit the mat.

Alvarez has faced reasonably experienced regional competition with his last 3 opponents holding a combined record of 39-18. He submitted all 3 opponents, accounting for the only submission loss for 2 of the fighters.

The most effective aspect of Ismagulov’s gameplan against Gorgees was his ability to blend his attack together; landing hard strikes before changing levels for a takedown.

Joel’s TDD is far from ironclad, but his willingness to go to his back has a lot to do with his aggressive guard. Ismagulov will need to be mindful of Alvarez’s ability to snap on a sub from a variety of positions.

Alvarez’s offensive guard is a threat, but won’t be enough to get the job done here. Ismagulov will hold a wide advantage on the feet, with a more varied and consistent offensive attack. At the top level, a willingness to give up takedowns is a dangerous proposition, especially for a debuting fighter. Ismagulov dictates where the fight plays out, outworking Alvarez on the feet for the duration of the bout- my prediction is Damir Ismagulov to defeat Joel Alvarez by decision.

UFC on ESPN 1: Ngannou vs Velasquez

135lbs- #5 Jimmie Rivera (21-2-0) vs #7 Aljamain Sterling (15-3-0)

The shark tank that is the Bantamweight division offers another impressive matchup of contenders as Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera faces Aljamain “Funkmaster” Sterling. Rivera defeated John Dodson to start the rebuild after suffering his first loss in 10-years; he is 6-1 inside the Octagon. Sterling has won back to back fights with a submission win over Cody Stamann and decision victory against Brett Johns- he is 8-3 in the UFC.

Sterling is 3 inches taller than Rivera to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Rivera is the older man by a month.

Both men share noteworthy similarities and key differences. In a similar fashion, both fighters will utilize their wrestling as a key aspect of their attack. Sterling is more apt to set up a submission or work his ground and pound while Rivera focusses on control his goe.

Defensively, Rivera has never been taken down in the UFC while Sterling has given up 9 takedowns over his last 7 fights.

They diverge in their striking offense. Sterling tends to be a counter striker with his hands while initiating with his kicking techniques. His use of kicks helps him to maintain gap control. Rivera is much more aggressive with his boxing, moving forward and throwing combinations.

Against Dodson, Jimmie utilized some good low kicks and landed a respectable 62 significant strikes against the Elusive “Magician”.

Neither man has overwhelming power numbers and both have been recently knocked cold by future title challenger Marlon Moraes.

Sterling is a dangerous grappler, but if Rivera’s TDD holds- Aljamain will be without one of his key weapons. Conversely, Rivera’s speed and volume will be at the forefront of his success. Sterling’s lack of a consistent boxing attack and below average power will allow “El Terror” to press forward unchecked. Jimmie could find success with his own takedowns, but he may also opt to remain vertical- my prediction is Jimmie Rivera to defeat Aljamain Sterling by decision.

135lbs- Benito Lopez (9-0-0) vs Manny Bermudez (13-0-0)

A battle of undefeated prospects features Team Alpha Male product “Golden Boy” Benito Lopez taking on submission machine Manny “The Bermudez Triangle” Bermudez in the Bantamweight division. Lopez earned a split decision on the Contenders fight before picking up a decision victory over Albert Morales in his debut. Bermudez is 2-0 in the UFC, submitting both Morales and Davey Grant.

Lopez has been on the shelf for just over 15-months since his debut. Both men are 5’10”, but Lopez will have a 2″ reach advantage. They are nearly the same age.

Bermudez is a submission specialist, earning 10 of his 13 pro wins by tap out. The majority of his victories have come by guillotine or his vaunted triangle choke. Lopez will need to avoid the grappling exchanges, but that has been easier said than done.

Manny will pull guard and attack with submissions or set up sweeps- opting to take damage on the mat to set up attacks.

Lopez needs to keep this fight on the feet and utilize his striking offense. He has some pop in his techniques, but his willingness to get wild and brawl could work against him. Bermudez did drop Grant, but his striking is a secondary aspect of his offense. Benito has to magnify this shortcoming.

In both his debut and his Tuesday Night Contender battle, Lopez spent some time on his back and had trouble creating separation in the clinch. Bermudez has shown he only needs 1 opportunity on the mat to set up a submission. Even if they don’t go horizontal, Manny will attack in the clinch. Lopez is simply too reckless to avoid getting locked up with Bermudez which won’t end well- my prediction is Manny Bermudez to defeat Benito Lopez by submission.


125lbs- #12 Ashlee Evans-Smith (6-3-0) vs #14 Andrea Lee (9-2-0)

In the Women’s Flyweight division, ranked opponents square off when Ashlee Evans-Smith takes on Andrea “KGB” Lee. Evans-Smith was last seen scoring a decision win over Bec Rawlings to halts her 2-fight losing skid. Lee extended her current winning streak to 5 with an Octagon debut victory over Veronica Macedo.

AES is 2 inches taller, but Lee will have a 2″ reach advantage. Lee was tagged to fight near the end of 2018 against Jessica-Rose Clark, but Clark was forced to pull out.

Evans-Smith is coming off her best all-around performance which included 116 strikes landed, primarily on the feet. An improved striking offense is key for AES as she has struggled to implement her wrestling. If forced to contend on the feet, Lee offers a variety of striking technique.

Andrea is a sound striker, building around her Karate background. She outlanded her opponent 56-24 in her debut, utilizing a combination of range and clinch striking. Similar to Evans-Smth, Lee utilized the clinch along the cage to set up takedowns and drag her opponent to the floor.

If the fights hits the floor, Lee has a solid submission game, securing 4 wins by tap out. Conversely, AES has been submitted twice as a pro and on multiple occasions as an amateur.

AES’s striking looked improved, but she will struggle with the more diverse offense of Lee. Lee is strong in the clinch which is where AES picks up most of her takedowns. Lee will either defend or scramble out of the wrestling exchanges and land the better strikes in gritty battle- my prediction is Andrea Lee to defeat Ashlee Evans-Smith by decision.


155lbs- Scott Holtzman (12-2-0) vs Nik Lentz (31-9-2 1NC)

A pair of Lightweight scrappers go toe to toe as Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman takes on Nik “The Carny” Lentz. Holtzman has won a trio of fights, most recently finishing Alan Patrick last October. Lentz is coming off a finish of Gray Maynard, he has secured wins in 4 of his last 6 outings.

Holtzman is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage over Lentz. Nik is the younger fighter by a year.

The takedown number of both men stand out as the most significant statistical aspect of this fight. Holtzman has completed at least 1 takedown in each of his UFC fights; he is 4-0 when winning the takedown battle and 1-2 when losing it. In a similar fashion, Lentz is 1-4 in his last 5 fights when he doesn’t complete a takedown.

Lentz has averaged 4 completions per fight over his last 8 victories.

On the feet, both fighters have showcased a notable uptick in their overall output. Holtzman put up good numbers against Patrick and McBride- landing 104 significant strikes. He should have an edge in both volume and impact.

Lentz landed 75 significant strikes on Maynard, his UFC best. Normally, “The Carny” lands between 35 and 60 significant strikes.

There appears to be a difference in career directions between these two fighters. Holtzman has been stringing together is best overall performance, improving his wrestling, throwing more volume, and tightening up his defensive game. Lentz’s wrestling hasn’t been nearly as effective and his vertical output is below average.

If Lentz can utilize his wrestling, he has the ability to grind his way to a decision. Holtzman’s improved defensive game should afford him the ability to stay vertical long enough to do damage on the feet. Holtzman will be the more impactful and active striker and might even find success with his own wrestling later in the fight- my prediction is Scott Holtzman to defeat Nik Lentz by decision.

135lbs- Renan Barao (36-7-0 1NC) vs Luke Sanders (13-3-0)

Former Bantamweight champion Renan Barao looks to break out of his current losing slump when he takes on “Cool Hand” Luke Sanders. Barao dropped a split decision to Andre Ewell in Brazil, his fifth defeat in his last 6 fights. Sanders opened his promotional run with a victory over Maximo Blanco, but has since stumbled through a 1-3 stretch that saw him get finished in all 3 defeats.

Both men stand 5’6″, but Renan will have a 3″ reach advantage. The former champion is the younger man by 2 years.

Sanders has a reputation for starting strong, but fading. In his first 2 UFC defeats, he won the opening round before he was finished in the 2nd frame. Even in his win over Patrick Williams, he dominated the early action, but slowed and allowed Williams to get back into the fight.

The former champion has relatable, but different issues. Barao struggles with opponents that push a heavy pace and maintain a constant flow of offense. At least early in the fight, Sanders has shown he can offer a decent work rate, hammering his foe with heavy strikes both standing and on the mat.

It is also worth noting that while Barao is the younger fighter, he also has considerable more mileage on his body. He made his pro debut 6-years before Sanders and has fought 42 pro fights to just 15 for Luke.

Luke usually gets off to a good start, but his opponent is able to hang around and rally. Barao tends to fade in the latter stages of a bout, but his drop off in performance is directly impacted by his adversary’s ability to push the pace early. Sanders will start out strong, blitz Barao with punching combinations and keep engaging. Renan’s ability to come back will be compromised after the initial exchanges- my prediction is Luke Sanders to defeat Renan Barao by decision.

115lbs- Jessica Penne (12-6-0) vs Jodie Esquibel (6-4-0)

In the second of 4 Women’s bouts on the card, former UFC title challenger and Invicta Atomweight champion Jessica Penne returns to action across the cage from Invicta alumni Jodie Esquibel. Penne is in the midst of a 3-fight losing streak, dropping fights to Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jessica Andrade, and most recently Danielle Taylor. Esquibel has lost each of her 2 UFC outings, falling via decision to Jessica Aguilar and Karolina Kowalkiewicz.

Penne is the taller fighter by 2 inches and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Jodie is the younger fighter by 3-years while Penne hasn’t fought in almost 22-months.

The first question surrounding this fight is the focus of Penne. Beyond her inactivity, she suffered a pair of brutal TKO finishes. A lack of confidence could also be an issue as Penne has not won a fight in over 4-years.

Esquibel is in a similar situation,  with just a single win in her last 4 fights. She is 5-3 on the scorecards with a 3-0 record in split decisions.

Penne needs to get back to her base; a BJJ Black belt- her best performances have come when she can get her grappling game involved. Jodie comes from a boxing base and will struggle if Penne can take her down.

Esquibel has defended 7 of 8 TDAs in the UFC.

Despite her boxing background, Esquibel’s output hasn’t held up in either loss. She has given up triple-digit volume in both outings. That might not be an issue against Penne, who has a UFC-best of 69 significant strikes landed and has given up more offense than she offered in all 4 of her appearances.

Jessica has been outlanded 370 to 160 inside the Octagon.

Penne doesn’t have the power to back the boxer off and is devoid of the wrestling needed to incorporate her grappling with consistency. Esquibel will move in and out, landing flurries and capitalize on Jessica’s unwillingness to let her hands go. Ring rust will further impact Penne’s performance, my prediction is Jodie Esquibel to defeat Jessica Penne by decision.

115lbs- Aleksandra Albu (3-0-0) vs Emily Whitmire (3-2-0)

The opening fight of the night pits Aleksandra “Stitch” Albu against TUF 26 alumni Emily “Spitfire” Whitmire in the Strawweight division. Albu improved her UFC record to 2-0 last July with a decision victory over Kailin Curran at UFC 214. Whitmire has also fought twice inside the Octagon, dropping her debut via submission but rallying to score a decision victory over Jamie Moyle.

Whitmire returned to the Strawweight division in her last fight, she 3 inches taller than Albu and they will share the same reach. Emily is the younger fighter by a year.

The key to victory for Whitmire will be her endurance and technical skills. Albu likes to muscle her offense which could create cardio issues later in the fight especially when combined with the 1.5-year layoff for the Russian.

While “Stitch” is a little stiffer than Whitmire, she will also do more damage when her offense lands. Albu constantly presses forward and throws heavy kicks and punches. Emily was getting tagged with regularity against Moyle and can’t afford to let Aleksandra pile up the offense.

The most interesting aspect of this fight will be the ground exchanges. Albu completed 5 takedowns against Curran, relying heavily on her strength and a head and arm throw to get the action to the mat. She also pulled guard early in the fight. Once on top, she can do damage with her GNP or set up a sub.

Whitmire has been submitted in both of her pro bouts and lost via TKO due to GNP in her TUF tournament exit. While she can do work on the mat, she appears to be vulnerable. “Spitfire” could gain the positional edge if Albu tires and/or makes some mistakes when they lock up.

The layoff for Albu and overall lack of activity is a major concern. That being said, she is the better athlete and the physically stronger woman. Albu will find success pushing forward and landing power strikes with Whitmire struggling to back her off. Once on the inside, “Stitch” will score takedowns and do damage from top position- my prediction is Aleksandra Albu to defeat Emily Whitmire by TKO.

UFC 234: Adesanya vs Silva

155lbs- Devonte Smith (9-1-0) vs Dong Hyun Ma (16-8-3)

In the headlining bout of the Undercard, Devonte “King Kage” Smith makes his sophomore walk to the Octagon opposed South Korea’s newly named Dong Hyun Ma. Looking to gain some distinction from the “Stun Gun”, Ma has won 3 consecutive bouts including a split decision in Australia against Damien Brown. Smith debuted with a crushing knockout of Julian Erosa to extend his winning streak to 10 straight.

Ma is 2 inches taller, but Smith will have a sizable 6″ reach advantage. Smith is the younger man by 5-years.

Smith showcased his violent striking, sending Erosa to the canvas with a quick 1-2 and follow-up ground strikes. He has finished 8 of his 9 wins by knockout, 5 in the opening round. “King Kage” also scored a 4th round TKO back in 2017. Smith is quick and moves very well, bouncing in and out with rapid combinations.

His Contender victory came via elbow strikes in defense of a takedown attempt along the cage.

Ma has put on multiple strong performances, but has more recently started converting his efforts into wins. The Korean has split his 12 finishes evenly between knockouts and submissions. A Judo Black Belt, Dong utilized his ground skills with a 4-pack of takedowns in his win over Brendan O’Reilly. Against Brown, he didn’t attempt a single shot opting to ride with his striking.

Willing to take damage, Ma’s current striking exchange rate sits at -0.76.

Ma is a willing striker with the ability mix in his grappling skills. Unfortunately, Smith is a considerably better athlete with a superior striking offense. Dong has to make this a war, survive the early exchanges, and hope Devonte wears down before he does. He won’t. Smith lets his hands go, capitalizing on Ma’s willingness to wade forward- my prediction is Devonte Smith to defeat Dong Hyun Ma by knockout.

145lbs- Shane Young (11-4-0) vs Austin Arnett (15-5-0)

The undercard co-main event transpires in the Featherweight division as “Golden Boy” Austin Arnett takes on Auckland-born “Sugar” Shane Young. Arnett had lost 3 straight fights including a pair of UFC bouts before scoring a decision win over Humberto Bandenay. Young dropped a decision to the hulking Alexander Volkankovski in his debut, but is coming off of a middle round TKO victory over Rolando Dy.

The American is 4 inches taller than Young, but they will share the same 72″ reach. “Sugar” is the younger man by 2-years.

The key to Arnett’s success has been his output. He was badly out-landed 155 to 55 over his first 2 Octagon adventures. Conversely, he defeated Bandenay with a consistently paced attack, ending the night with a 74 to 40 edge in overall strikes. Arnett didn’t start to find success until rounds 2 and 3 once his foe began to slow down.

Arnett was unsuccessful in his Tuesday Night Contender’s bid, dropping a decision to Brandon Davis.

Shane made his debut with just a week to prep for Volkanovski. Young gave up 5 takedowns in his debut, but looked to utilize a similar approach in his next fight. He completed just 1 of 5 TDAs against Dy. He maintains consistent pressure, forcing his foe to work off their back foot. He landed 104 significant strikes in just under 10 minutes.

Young is 2-4 in decision which is indicative of a fighter that is willing to absorb damage to deliver damage.


125lbs- Kai Kara-France (17-7-0 1NC) vs Raulian Paiva (17-1-0)

The Flyweight division continues on as New Zealand’s Kai Kara-France meets the debuting Raulian Paiva. Kara France has won 6 in a row after debuting with a decision victory over Elias Garcia. Paiva earned a split decision on the Brazilian Tuesday Night Contender series and has won 12 consecutive bouts.

Paiva is 3 inches taller than Kai and the younger man by 2-years.

A TUF: Tournament of Champions alumni, Kara-France has finished 9 opponents by knockout and put together an impressive 86-strike debut performance. Both standing and on the mat, KK-F maintained a constant flow of offense. The New Zealander did find himself in some tough spots, diving into his adversary’s guard and then defending multiple submission attempts.

Kai was eliminated in the 2nd round of the TUF tournament via decision against Alexander Pantoja.

Paiva is 12-0 on the scorecards while splitting his 6 finishes evenly between subs and knockouts. The Brazilian’s striking offense includes a sharp left jab and decent combination punching. He also offers good head movement; working in close while slipping and countering with crisp hooks.

If taken to the mat, he will attack with sub and scramble to a better position.

Paiva has faced and defeated experienced foes; his last 3 foes are a combined 56-28. Just 4-months ago he was involved in a motorcycle accident that claimed the life of his girlfriend which raises concerns about his mental state.

Kara-France found success based on Garcia’s willingness to give up position, but he also had issues with Elias’s aggressive guard. Paiva’s is a good scrambler and dangerous on the mat. He is an active striker capable of working on the outside or doing damage in close. Kai has power but he has struggled to reach longer fighters and will do so here. Paiva will come out motivated, landing better strikes and holding the edge in the grappling exchanges- my prediction is Raulian Paiva to defeat Kai-Kara France by decision.


135lbs- Teruto Ishihara (11-5-2) vs Kyung Ho Kang (14-8-0 1NC)

With his UFC tenure on the line, Japan’s Teruto Ishihara takes on “Mr. Perfect” Kyung Ho Kang in the Bantamweight division. Ishihara has lost back to back bouts; a knockout loss to Petr Yan and a decision defeat against Jose Quinonez. Kang dropped a split decision to Ricardo Ramos, ending his 3 fight winning streak- he is 3-2 in the UFC with a No Contest.

A big Bantamweight, Kang will stand 2 inches taller than Ishihara to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Ishihara is the younger man by 4-years.

Ishihara’s strength lies in his striking- knockouts have accounted for 8 of his 10 wins. He has stopped 6 opponents in the opening round. He moves well, but his volume and below average cardio hamper his overall performance.

After earning back to back knockout wins, Teruto went a dismal 1-3 in decisions. All but 1 of his 6 career losses have come beyond the first round.

Kang lost significant time to his mandatory military service in his homeland. Prior to his hiatus, “Mr. Perfect” showcased his ground skills, completing 10 takedowns over his first 3 UFC outings. He has recorded 10 wins by submission- 4 by RNC.

Similar to his opponent, Kang’s record in longer fights is not strong. He is a 2-5 in decisions, including 1-1 in split decisions.

Ishihara has proven vulnerable to ground oriented fighters; he has been taken down in 6 of 8 fights. Kang’s size makes him a handful, especially in the clinch position. He should find success grinding Teruto down along the cage and dragging him to the fight. As the fight progress, Kang should find great successes bringing his grappling attack to bear- my prediction is Kyung Ho Kang to defeat Teruto Ishihara by submission.


155lbs- Lando Vannata (9-3-2) vs Marcos Rosa (6-4-0)

Fighting for the first time outside of North America, “Groovy” Lando Vannata takes on the debuting Marcos Rosa of Brazil. Vannata has just a single win in the UFC, including a pair of draws over his last 3 fights. Rosa is coming off of his 4th win in his last 5 fights to improve upon a 2-3 start to his pro career.

At 6’1″, Rosa is a tall Lightweight- 4 inches taller than Lando. The American is 6-years younger.

Rosa is far from a typical UFC debutant; he is 32 years old and holds a record barely above .500. He has finished his last 3 opponents, all in the first round. Marcos builds his attack behind a long jab and variety of kicking and spinning attacks.

The Brazilian has had issues with his defensive wrestling. His opponents have found success taking him down with regularity and keeping his back on the mat.

Despite taking part in some entertaining fights, Vannata has failed to convert his performances into wins. He has decent striking with finishing power, scoring a trio of knockdowns over his 2 draws. His awkward cadence can make it difficult for his opponent to get a read on him.

Lando will most likely look to his wrestling in this fight- he has completed 7 takedowns over his last 4 fights.

Vannata has been getting off to strong starts in recent action, but his willingness to brawl often brings his opponent back into the fight.

Vannata’s gameplan should be centered entirely around his wrestling. Rosa’s length and striking repertoire is decent, but it is his vulnerability on the floor that is too much to overlook. Vannata will most likely stick on the outside, inviting the early exchanges before changing levels for a takedown- my prediction is Lando Vannata to defeat Marcos Rosa by submission.


155lbs- Callan Potter (16-7-0) vs Jalin Turner (6-4-0)

The second fight on the card, features the sophomore appearance of Jalin Turner when he takes on the debuting Callan “The Rockstar” Potter in the Lightweight division. Turner took a short notice debut at Welterweight, suffering an opening round knockout to Vicente Luque. Potter’s 8-fight winning streak ended with a submission loss to Marcin Held- he rebounded with a split decision win in December.

Turner is 6’3″,  3-inches taller than Potter. Potter is a 11-years older and is stepping in on less than 2-weeks notice.

In his debut, Turner simply took on too much too soon. He utilizes his reach well, throwing heavy long-range strikes including a laser left hand. He has finished 6 opponents by knockout- all in the opening round. Conversely, the Luque loss was the third knockout loss of his career.

Despite the loss to Luque, Jalin did show good composer underfire against a larger and more experienced opponent.

Potter comes to the UFC with a stoppage heavy record. He has stopped his opponent in 16 of his 17 wins- 10 by knockout. Similar to Turner, he has also suffered multiple stoppage defeats- 3 by knockout and 4 by submission. “The Rockstar” has fought at Welterweight before which raises concerns about getting to 155 on short notice.

Of Potter’s 24 pro fights, 17 have ended in the opening round. Although, he does have a 5-round knockout win on his resume and is 6-1 in fights that go beyond the opening frame.

Potter needs to turn this fight into a brawl and force Turner to negate his physical and technical advantages. If he can take Jalin down, that could also give him a shot at victory. The Aussie isn’t overly fleet of foot and is quite hittable. Turner should find success keeping him at the end of his punches and doing damage- my prediction is Jalin Turner to defeat Callan Potter by knockout.


135lbs- Wuliji Buren (10-6-0) vs Jonathan Martinez (9-2-0)

In the first fight of the night, China’s “Beastmaster” Wuliji Buren takes on UFC sophomore Jonathan Martinez. Buren is 0-2 in the promotion after a knockout loss to Marlon Vera. Martinez made his debut as an injury replacement, dropping a decision to Andre Soukhamthath.

Buren is an inch taller, but Martinez will have a 1″ reach advantage. Buren is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Martinez looked decent on the outside with his kicking arsenal, but once he moved into range Soukhamthath dropped him on a couple of occasions and found success pushing him into the cage. He found his greatest success once he got his opponent on the mat, but overall he struggled with the physicality of his foe.

Martinez’s only loss prior to his UFC debut came due to illegal knee strikes against Matt Schnell.

The Chinese fighter has been a fast starter, but he has failed to convert his early success into victories. He put Rolando Dy in some bad spots on the mat but struggled on the feet. He has landed 6 takedowns in 2 fights, but had issues holding top position. Against Vera, his striking looked improved prior to getting dropped with a body shot.

Prior to coming to the UFC, Buren’s last 3 victories came over opponents with a record of 16-11 with a single opponent accounting for 13 of those wins.

Buren should be the larger man with a focus on taking the action to the floor. His willingness to commit to his takedowns will be at the center of his attack. Martinez could hurt Wuliji and score a finish, but look for him to spend the majority of the fight on the defensive and working off his back- my prediction is Wuliji Buren to defeat Jonathan Martinez by decision.

UFC Fight Night 144: Assuncao vs Moraes 2

185lbs- Markus Perez (10-2-0) vs Anthony Hernandez (6-0-0)

In the final bout of the undercard, former LFA Middleweight champion Markus Perez looks for his 2nd UFC win when he welcomes the debuting Anthony Hernandez to the cage. Perez is coming off a decision loss to Andrew Sanchez, he was unable to follow up on his submission victory over James Bochnovic. Hernandez is undefeated, most recently decimating Jordan Wright in a Tuesday Night Contender Series fight before having the bout overturned to a No Contest.

Perez is an inch taller, but Hernandez will have an inch reach advantage and is the younger man by 5-years.

Hernandez has finished 5 opponents in the opening round- 2 by knockout and 4 by submission. His only outing to go beyond the first frame was a 5 round fight in LFA in which he captured the aforementioned LFA Middleweight strap in an upset. In his Contender bout, he closed on his foe with a series of thunderous strikes and finished him quickly with a couple of massive right hooks.

A BJJ Black belt, Griffin offers a well-rounded attack, but his lack of long fight experience is certainly a significant factor to consider.

A BJJ Brown belt, Perez utilized his ground game his only UFC win, scoring an early takedown prior to securing his 4th submission win as a pro. Against Sanchez, his TDD held up on 6 attempts, but he struggled with the constant pressure of Sanchez- especially along the cage. Perez offers an unorthodox attack, throwing a number of kicking and spinning techniques.

Perez captured the LFA title in a similar fashion to Hernandez, debuting in the organization as an underdog upsetting the more established favourite.

Markus has a tendency to favour flash over function, which inhibits is overall output. He is a far more effective striker when he sticks to high percentage techniques. Hernandez has limited experience beyond the opening round and is making is debut in a tough environment. If the UFC newcomer can’t put Perez away early, he will need to work very hard to earn a decision. Perez will do just enough and pull away as Hernandez slows, my prediction is Markus Perez to defeat Anthony Hernandez by decision.

170lbs- Thiago Alves (27-13-0) vs Max Griffin (14-5-0)

Former Welterweight title challenger Thiago “Pitbull” Alves returns to Brazil for the first time since 2015 when he takes on Max “Pain Griffin”. Alves has dropped back to back fights and has just a single win over his last 5 contests- he is coming off a decision loss to Alexey Kunchenko. Griffin has alternated wins and losses since coming to the UFC, he defeated Mike Perry but came up short against Curtis Millender in his last fight.

Griffin is just 2-years older than the 24-fight UFC veteran. He will stand 2 inches taller than Alves with a sizeable 6″ reach advantage.

Thiago, a Fortaleza native, is nasty Muay Thai striker, building his offence around crippling low kicks and crisp punching combinations. The normally durable Alves has been knocked out in 2 of his last 4 defeats. Despite the defeat, Alves landed more significant strikes than his Russian counterpart by a total of 56 to 44. Alves allowed his foe to lead the exchanges and wasn’t sitting down on his own strikes which diminished the impact of his offence.

Of his 14 UFC wins, Alves has defeated just a single active member of the UFC roster- Jordan Mein.

Griffin beat Perry with a more technically sound and active striking attack. He stayed on the outside and avoid Perry’s power strikes. He fought a smart opening round against Millender, grounding him with his wrestling, but falter in rounds 2 and 3 and lost of the cards. Griffin comes from a kickboxing background and has some decent pop in his strikes with 7 wins by knockout.

Griffin is 5-4 on the scorecards, 1-2 in the UFC and 2-2 in split decisions.

Alves has had issues with longer opponents. He seems to get stuck on the outside, struggling to find a way into range where he can land his offence. Griffin is capable of fighting that style and his lateral movement will make it even more difficult for Alves to connect. Thiago seems unwilling to commit on most of his strikes and if Griffin can avoid the periodic power technique, he should be ahead on the cards- my prediction is Max Griffin to defeat Thiago Alves by decision.


125lbs- #12 Mara Romero Borella (12-5-0 1NC) vs Talia Santos (14-0-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, 2-fight UFC veteran Mara Romero Borella of Italy takes on the debuting Talia Santos. Santos earned the call after a Contenders win via decision, it was her first fight since 2016. Borella is 1-1 in the promotion, debuting with a win via RNC before falling to Katlyn Chookagian by decision.

Borella is an inch taller and 7-years younger than her foe.

The UFC newcomer enters the Octagon with a great finishing recording, stopping 10 of 15 opponents by knockout to go along with a pair of wins by sub. She has stopped 11 foes in round 1. Despite going the distance last time out, Santos showcased hard low kicks and a stinging left jab. She switches stances and moves well, making her difficult to hit and magnifying the significance of her own offence.

Prior to the Contenders bout, Talia faced a pair of regional opponents with a combined record of 0-11.

Borella picked up her 4th submission win in her debut, but completed just 1 of 3 TDAs against Chookagian and was forced back to her feet quickly. Mara maintained pressure on her Chook and landed more significant strikes but struggle to attack with consistency. The Italian found success with a repetitive low leg kick, but the distance appeared to give her issues.

Borella is well-travelled, having fought in China, the Ukraine, Finland, Switzerland, and more recently the United States, but this is her first trip to Brazil.

Borella is the more battle-tested fighter and Santos has faced a lot of low-level competition on the regional scene. If Borella can drag her foe to the floor she could bring her submission game to the forefront. On the feet, Santos’s stiff jab and hard low kicks will land with consistency if Borella opts to fight at close range. Borella has been knocked out 3-times and if this fight goes the distance she will need a significant edge in offense to get the nod, my prediction is Talia Santos to defeat Mara Romero Borella by decision.


265lbs- Junior Albini (14-4-0) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (5-0-0)

In a fight bitten by the “injury bug”, Junior Albini makes his fourth Octagon walk when he takes on the debuting Jairzinho Rozenstruick of Senegal. Albini’s debut stoppage of Tim Johnson quickly gave way to a pair of losses to Andrei Arlovski and Alexey Oleynik. Rozenstruik is undefeated, going 2-0 in 2018 with a split decision win over Andrey Kovalev under the Rizin FF banner.

Albini is an inch taller than Rozenstruik and will weigh in roughly 20 pounds heavier. He is also the younger man by 3-years.

Rozenstruik is a talented kickboxer, amassing a record of 76-6, including 64 wins by knockout. In MMA, he has finished 5 of his 6 wins by first round knockout. He offers hard and crisp boxing and heavy low kicks. The big concern for Jairzinho is the potential takedown. If he gets put on his back, he is in a lot of trouble.

After returning from a 5-year hiatus in 2017, he has faced a 4-pack of opponents with a combined record of 17-14, with his only above .500 opponent accounting for 9 wins and taking him to split decision.

The Brazilian is in need of a win after a pair of lacklustre performances. He has split his 12 finishes evenly between submissions and knockouts- all but 1 in the opening round. He knocked out Johnson, but looked underwhelming against Arlovski in a fight mainly contented on the feet.

Over a trio of fights, Junior attempted a pair of takedowns- successfully landing one.

Albini has a clear path to a win; he is the bigger man with more overall MMA experience against an opponent that is vulnerable on the mat. He needs an early takedown. Rozenstruik should be the quicker man and his normal path to victory shouldn’t be impacted by the short notice. Look for Albini to stick to his striking, trade with Rozenstruik, and get blasted- my prediction is Jairzinho Rozenstruik to defeat Junior Albini by knockout.

145lbs- Geraldo de Freiras Jr. (11-4-0) vs Felipe Colares (8-0-0)

A pair of top-ranked regional competitors go head to head as Jungle Fights alumni Felipe Colares meets fellow Jungle Fights and Shooto veteran Geraldo de Freiras Jr. Colares is undefeated but last saw action in 2017 with sparse activity since his 2013 pro debut. de Freiras Jr. is currently riding a 6-fight winning streak, finishing 4 of his last 6 opponents.

Both men are 5’9″, but Colares is the younger man by 3-years. He has not seen action in roughly 16-months while de Freiras Jr. has fought just once in the last 17-months.

Colares has put away 7 of his 8 opponents- 5 by sub and 5 in the opening round.  He has faced some reasonably capable regional competition with his last 3 opponents all over .500 with a combined record of 26-13. Colares offers a decent chain wrestling attack, pushing for takedowns until getting his adversary horizontal. He will utilize throws and trip from the clinch when he closes the distance.

Corales won the Jungle Fights Featherweight title in 2017.

A natural Bantamweight, de Freiras Jr. will benefit as the smaller man with just a week to prep for his debut. He offers a slightly more diversified record with 4 knockouts and 5 submission wins. He has a trio of wins by submission. Similar to his opponent, he has faced some decent regional competition, with all recent opponents boasting about .500 records.

de Freiras Jr. started his pro career 4-3, dropping all 3 defeats on the scorecards.

Both fighters are coming in on short notice and making their debuts. Additionally, there isn’t a lot of quality film on either man as of right now. Corales appears to be the better athlete and the larger fighter. His tenacity when looking for the takedown and decent work in the clinch will be key in a grinding affair- my prediction is Felipe Corales to defeat Geraldo de Freiras Jr. by decision.

135lbs- Ricardo Ramos (12-1-0) vs #12 Said Nurmagomedov (11-1-0)

Promotional sophomore Said Nurmagomedov looks to build on his successful debut when he takes on surging Brazilian contender Ricardo Ramos in the Bantamweight division. Ramos has picked up a trio of wins since entering the Octagon, most recently scoring a split decision win over Kyung Ho Kang. Nurmagomedov has won 6 straights fights including his first UFC appearance, besting Justin Scoggins by split decision.

Nurmagomedov made his debut at Flyweight, but will move up 10-pounds for this fight. Ramos is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is 3-years younger than the Russian.

An aggressive fighter no matter where the action takes place, Ramos has finished 9 of his 12 wins- 6 by submission. Ricardo has finished 6 fights in the opening, but has posted a notable increase in fight time since taking a step up in competition. Ramos’ aggression has led him to give up position in pursuit of a submission which can cost him with the judges.

Ramos has some pop in his hands; he finished his sophomore appearance with a spinning back-fist and dropped Michinori Tanaka during an exchange.

Contrarian to his opponent, Said offers a more decision-heavy record. He has gone the distance 8 times, winning 7 compared to a pair of knockouts and 3 submission wins. Unlike his Champion cousin, Nurmagomedov is a striking-based fighter. He has more pop in his hands than his record suggests and will offer a variety of kicking and spinning techniques.

The Russian will take the fight to the mat if the opportunity presents itself, landing just 1 of 11 TDAs in his debut.

Ramos’s questionable late-fight cardio and periodic over-aggression are concerning. Conversely, the combination of Ricardo’s constant offense and the boisterous Brazil crowd can be an overwhelming combo. Nurmagomedov needs to maintain distance with his kicks, but he will be forced to fight off his back foot making it hard to kick. Ramos’ more active and sharper boxing couple with his ground skills will be the difference- my prediction is Ricardo Ramos to defeat Said Nurmagomedov by submission.


125lbs- Rogerio Bontorin (13-1-0 1NC) vs #11 Magomed Bibulatov (14-1-0)

The opening scrap on the undercard goes down in the Flyweight division as Russian Magomed Bibulatov looks to rebound from the first loss of his pro career when he takes on the debuting Rogerio Bontorin. Bibulatov is coming off a stunning upset loss to John Moraga, he is now 1-1 in the UFC. Bontorin picked up a win on the Contenders Series for his second straight victory since his first career loss to former UFC fighter Michinori Tanaka.

The Brazilian is the taller man by an inch and will have 2″ reach advantage. He is also 4-years younger than his foe. Bibulatov has been out of action for 15-months.

Bontorin has a background in BJJ and Muay Thai finishing 13 of his 14 wins- 11 by submission. He has finished 8 opponents in the opening round, falling via submission in the 3rd round against Tanaka. In his last fight, Bontorin found success with his jab but didn’t throw a lot of volume and was badly hurt prior to recovering and grabbing an RNC finish.

Botorin has fought both at Bantamweight and Flyweight and is one of the top lighter weight fighters in Brazil.

The Russian comes from a strong ground fighting background based in Sambo and wrestling. Bibulatov hasn’t showcased his ground skill much in the Octagon, landing just 2 takedowns on 7 attempts. At distance, he throws a nice variety of kicking attacks, switching stances to disguise his offence.

Bibulatov showed a lot of fakes in his debut and moved well on the feet to shut down the offence of his foe, but Moraga was able to put him away with one big shot.

Bontorin seems dependant on taking his opponent down and working his submission game. That is going to be difficult against Bibulatov. The Russian should have the ability to dictate where the fight goes and either work from a strong top position or force his opponent to compete on the feet. Bibulatov’s layoff and chin are concerns, but he has the skill set to shut down his counterpart- my prediction is Magomed Bibulatov to defeat Rogerio Bontorin by TKO.

UFC Fight Night 143: Cejudo vs Dillashaw

155lbs- #11 Alexander Hernandez (10-1-0) vs #13 Donald Cerrone (34-11-0 1NC)

The headlining fight on the undercard features the return of former title challenger Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone as he cuts back down to Lightweight to take on surging prospect Alexander “The Great” Hernandez. Cerrone went 6-4 at Welterweight, losing 4 of his last 6 fights but subbing Mike Perry last time out. Hernandez burst into the UFC with a knockout win over Beneil Dariush and followed it with a sound decision win over Olivier Aubin-Mercier.

Despite a 4″ height advantage, Cerrone will have just a one-inch reach advantage. Hernandez is 9 years younger than “Cowboy”, who has not fought at Lightweight since his 2015 title fight loss.

Cerrone’s Muay Thai striking is lethal, but he has struggled with consistency. Aggressive pressure based strikers have found success pushing him backwards and rendering him defensive. Additionally, his durability has been an issue- he has been knocked out in 3 of his last 5 fights and 4 times overall.

While the submission prowess of “Cowboy” is well known, his wrestling has shown improvements in recent outings. He has 17 wins by submission.

Hernandez’s debut knockout of Dariush exemplified his dangerous striking offence and he followed it up with a strong wrestling performance against a very good ground fighter in OAM. “The Great” carries a good pace and maintains consistent pressure in the face of his opponents.

Hernandez has gone 5-1 in 3-round fights while a perfect 5-0 in fights ending inside the first 5 minutes.

The outcome of this fight will be impacted greatly by where Cerrone’s head is at. He is on the wrong side of 35 and recently had a son. His focus has always been a concern and it still is. Hernandez’s aggression does open himself up to counter and more technically sound offense of the WEC alumni. Regardless, look for Hernandez to pressure Cerrone early, forcing him to work hard while testing his durability- my prediction is Alexander Hernandez to defeat Donald Cerrone by decision.

125lbs- #10 Joanne Calderwood (12-3-0) vs Ariane Lipski (11-3-0)

In the expanding Women’s Flyweight division, top-ranked Joanne Calderwood welcomes the debuting “Violence Queen” Ariane Lipski. Calderwood made a successful return to the division with an opening-round submission win over Kalindra Faria. Lipski makes the move from KSW where she went 5-0, after starting her pro career 2-3 she has won 9 straight fights.

Both girls are 5’6″, but Lipski is 9-years younger than JoJo.

Calderwood is a lethal striker, throwing a variety of Muay Thai techniques with devastating effect. She has struggled at times with her willingness to engage and that often has a lot to do with the threat of being taken down. The Scot has dropped 2 of her 3 pro defeats by submission and given up 5 takedowns over her last 3 fights.

Calderwood did rally with a sub win over Faria and showcased her own ground skills earlier in her UFC career with 8 takedowns during her first 3 UFC wins.

Lipski comes from a kickboxing background, stopping 6 opponents by knockout. She throws hard kicks to her opponent’s body and legs in accompaniment with sharp volume boxing.  The Brazilian showcased her ground game in recent action, scoring a takedown and catching an armbar off her back. A move that JoJo has struggled with.

The last knockout win on her record came over UFC vet Sheila Gaff, battering her with knees in the clinch before land a short counter right for the finish.

Calderwood has underachieved considering the hype surrounding her move to the UFC. While talented, she is a slow starter and struggles under pressure. Lipski is aggressive and should be able to capitalize with her accurate striking barrages. JoJo has used takedowns against aggressive strikers, but she has been open to armbar attacks- my prediction is Ariane Lipski to defeat Joanne Calderwood by decision.

205lbs- Alonzo Menifield (7-0-0) vs Vinicius Castro (9-1-0)

The heaviest fight on the undercard 2-time Tuesday Night Contenders winner veteran Alonzo Menifield takes on fellow UFC debutant and Contenders graduate Vinicius Castro. Brazil’s Castro has won 5 in a row since his only pro defeat- he went 5-0 in 2018. Menifield has yet to taste defeat since turning pro in 2015- he earned a 2017 win over former UFC roster member Daniel Jolly.

Castro is the taller man by 4 inches and the younger fighter by 2-years.

A former Canadian Football player, Menifield is undefeated with 6 of 7 wins coming by knockout. He has recorded 5 wins inside the opening round with his lone submission win coming by RNC. His last 3 opponents carry a combined record of 14-13. Alonzo’s Contender’s fights didn’t show a lot- an uneventful round leading to an injury finish following by a flash 9-second knockout.

In addition to his Contender fights, Menifield has fought in Bellator, LFA, and RFA.

Fighting out of Brazil, BJJ Black belt Castro has stopped all 9 of his opponents- 8 by submission. The majority of his wins have come by some form of choke with 5 fights ending before the first 5 minutes elapsed. Vinicius pushes forward, willingly eating shots to set up his takedowns. Once on the mat, he has a strong transitional top game setting up his sub attacks.

Prior to getting the tap in his last fight, he hat some big shots on the feet and look significantly out of his depth when trying to find an opening to clinch.

Castro has to get this fight to the floor and he is going to be in serious trouble. Menifield is far from a finished product, but he is the superior athlete and throws significant power. The Brazilian can not afford to take too many strikes in search of an opening for a takedown. Menifield could open himself up to the skills of his foe if he gasses out, but my prediction is Alonzo Menifield to defeat Vinicius Castro by knockout.

135lbs- Mario Bautista (6-0-0) vs Cory Sandhagen (9-1-0)

In another contest altered by injury, Cory Sandhagen takes on the short notice debutant Mario Bautista in the Bantamweight division. Sandhagen is 2-0 in the UFC, finishing both his opponents by middle round TKO, including Iuri Alcantara. Bautista turned pro in 2017 and won a trio of fights in each year, including a pair of wins under the LFA banner.

Bautista is stepping with a week to prep, replacing John Lineker who was replacing Thomas Almeida who Sandhagen was originally scheduled to face. Lineker had been tied to a bout with Dominick Cruz until it was scrapped. Cory is the taller man 2 inches, but he will give up 2 inches of reach.

Statistically, Sandhagen has put together some impressive stats. Over his 2 UFC fights, he has landed a combined 146 significant strikes compared to just 41 against. He limited Alcantara to just 9. Despite the lopsided stats, he battled through some adversity early vs Alcantara- suffering a knockdown and prolonged armbar/ triangle combo.

Cory’s win was a product of durability converted into a superior position and a barrage of unanswered ground strikes.

Bautista is coming off of the first fight of his career to go the distance. He has a pair of knockout wins and 3 submissions. His last 3 opponents are a combined 12-6, but each fighter was coming off a loss before fighting Bautista. He his aggressive, tossing out heavy strikes and closing the distance for takedowns.

The UFC newcomer is taking this fight on short notice, debuting, and fighting the most accomplished opponent of his career.

Bautista will need to overcome a number of negative scenario before even worrying about his opponent. His lack of long fight experience coupled with the short notice is major concerns against an opponent that pushes a torrid pace. Unless Sandhagen is unnerved by the multiple opponent changes, look for him to engage Bautista early and overwhelm him with offence- my prediction is Cory Sandhagen to defeat Mario Bautista by TKO.

155lbs- Dennis Bermudez (17-9-0) vs Te Edwards (6-1-0)

Moving up to the Lightweight division, Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez takes on UFC sophomore Te “T” Edwards. Bermudez has frustratingly lost 4 straight fights, including 3 straight by split decision Edwards entered the UFC on the strength of 5 consecutive wins, but dropped his debut via head kick knockout to Don Madge.

Edwards is 2 inches taller than Bermudez to go along with a sizeable 6-inch reach. He is also the younger fighter by 4-years. Dennis is moving to Lightweight after spending his entire UFC career at 145-pounds.

“T” Edwards has an impressive finishing rate; earning all 6 wins by first round knockout. Moreover, 5 of those wins came inside the first 2 minutes.  He hits hard and can wrestle, but he struggled with the submission attacks of his debut opponent.

On the negative side, Edwards has never won a fight that went beyond the first half of the first round.

While not cutting the extra pounds could help Bermudez’s durability- it could also further magnify the distance issues he had at Featherweight. Bermudez’s recent struggles has seen him either not land enough volume or struggle to find consistency with his wrestling.

Dennis’s chin has been a major concern throughout his pro run. Suffering a pair of knockouts and multiple knockdowns.

Edwards had a few moments in his debut, but his lack of experience was evident. Bermudez is taking a step back in competition, but is opponent still has the skills to exploit the shortcomings of the “Menance”. Dennis needs to be careful early of the power of Edwards, but if Bermudez can get this fight beyond frame 1 he should be in control- my prediciton is Dennis Bermudez to defeat Te Edwards by TKO.

170lbs- Belal Muhammad (14-2-0) vs Geoff Neal (10-2-0)

In the Welterweight division, Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad looks to continue his strong push up the ranks when he takes on Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal. Muhammad has won 4 in a row, including big wins over Tim Means and Jordan Mein in 2017. Neal is 2-0 in the promotion, debuting with a submission win over Brian Camozzi and following with a head kick knockout over Frank Camacho.

Both men are 5’11”, but Neal will that a 3″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 2 years.

Muhammad’s strength is his pace and conditioning. He blends his striking together effectively with well-timed takedowns and top control. He averages 4.63 significant strikes per minute and has completed at least a single takedown in all but 1 of his 7 UFC fights.

Belal lacks stopping power, finishing just 4 fights by knockout. Conversely, his chin has been an area of concern- Vicente Luque stopped him and Alan Jouban hurt him on multiple occasions.

Neal is aggressive and throws with power. His offense is highlighted by a sharp right jab and heavy straight left hand. He ended the Camacho fight with a brutal left high kick. Neal does his best work when he cuts off the cage and forces his foe to fight with their back to the wall.

With 8 fo 10 fights ending inside the distance, Neal has fought beyond the mid-way mark of a fight just 5 times. He is 3-2, with both career losses coming by 3rd round finish.

Muhammad will most likely opt to test Neal’s defensive wrestling. If Neal can stay vertical, he has the speed and sharp striking to counter the volume of his foe. “Handz of Steel” needs to engage Belal, but avoid over-extending himself. Muhammad had issues with the reach of Means and he will struggle with the similar length of Neal, backed by his power and quickness- my prediction is Geoff Neal to defeat Belal Muhammad by knockout.

170lbs- Kyle Stewart (8-0-0) vs Chance Rencountre (12-3-0)

The first UFC bout of 2019 will feature the debuting Kyle “Gunz Up” Stewart meeting promotional sophomore Chance “Black Eagle” Rencountre in the Welterweight division. Stewart opened his pro career with 10 straight wins before suffering his first defeat he rebounded with a victory to close 2018 with a 3-1 win. Rencountre came to the UFC on the strength on a 4-fight winning streak before dropping his debut decision to Belal Muhammad.

Stewart is replacing Dwight Grant who had to pull out of the fight after briefly being pegged to take the spot of Randy Brown. Stewart makes his debut with less than a week to prep. Both men are 6’2″, but Stewart will have a slight 1″ reach advantage.

Despite the win, Stewart didn’t have the best showing in his Contenders bout, spending the majority of the action on the floor in a defensive position. He did land some offence that led to a fight-ending ankle injury. He had similar issues in his LFA title shot, dropping a decision on the basis of his opponent’s superior wrestling.

He has finished 7 opponents, 6 in the opening round.

Rencountre took his debut on short notice and didn’t showcase much, landing just 16 significant strikes. He does have 6 wins by knockout, but he has recently showcased his grappling skills. His last 2 wins came by submission, including a first-round Brabo choke at Bellator 184.

“Black Eagle” went 2-1 under the Bellator banner including a rematch win over the man that defeated him in his debut. Similar to Stewart, his first career loss came against James Nakashima.

It is difficult to get a strong read on this fight as both men are relative unknowns and the multiple opponent changes really mixed things up. Stewart has been underwhelming against decent competition and his TDD is a major concern. Rencountre had a full training camp and appears to have a decent enough mat game to capitalize on Stewart’s struggles- my prediction is Chance Rencountre to defeat Kyle Stewart by submission.

 

265lbs- #13 Andrei Arlovski (0-0-0) vs Walt Harris (11-7-0)

In the Heavyweight preliminary headliner, former Champion Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski takes on “The Big Ticket” Walt Harris. Arlovski is just 2-7 over his last 9 fights; his recent 2 fight winning streak has given way to a couple of decision defeats to Tai Tuivasa and Shamil Abdurakhimov. Harris started his UFC run 1-4, but has won 3 of his last 5 including an unfortunate DQ loss to Mark Godbeer.

At 6’5″, Harris is 2 inches taller than Arlovski, but they will share an equal 77″ reach. Harris, who is 4- years younger than Andrei will weigh-in roughly 10 pounds heavier.

Harris is coming off of his 2nd career win to transpire outside of the opening round; stopping his foe in the final seconds of round 2. Prior to the win, “Big Ticket” was 1-4 beyond the first 5-minutes while finishing 9 of 10 of his wins via first-round knockout. Before scoring the stoppage, Walt was throwing a lot of single strikes and looked to be concerned with conserving energy.

Arlovski’s career has been highlighted by streaks and slumps. He struggled to find much offense against Abdurakhimov, landing just 18 significant strikes over 15-minutes, spending large portions of the fight on his back. He has altered his fighting style, focussing more on controlling the exchanges and limiting his opponent’s offensive opportunities.

Dropping a split decision to the aforementioned Abdurakhimov, it was still Harris’ best 3 round performance. His output range seems to sit between 20 and 35 significant strikes. He will open up when engaged and landed a beautiful fighting ending combination against Sherman. Harris needs to find a balance between energy conservation and aggression.

Andrei’s chin is the main reason for his more conservative approach. He has been knocked out 10 times over 17 defeats. The last coming in early 2017. His less aggressive attack has resulted in 5 consecutive decisions which could be key against Harris when considering Walt’s track record. Unfortunately, he has won just 2 of those 5 fights on the scorecards.

Harris is faster and bigger than Arlovski and has knockout power. Unfortunately, his one and done approach to striking plays into the hands of Andrei’s more defensively focussed approach. In recent action, fighters have found success against Arlovski with takedowns, but that is not Walt’s style. Look for Andrei to pot shot Walt from the outside, while avoiding Harris’ single note offense. Arlovski’s slight edge in volume against an opponent with limited success outside the first round will show up. Look for Andrei to mix in kicks and a few takedowns at key moments- my prediction is Andrei Arlovski to defeat Walt Harris by decision.

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145lbs- Cat Zingano (9-3-0) vs Megan Anderson (8-3-0)

In a division still looking to gain traction, former Bantamweight title challenger “Alpha” Cat Zingano takes on former Invicta Featherweight champion Megan Anderson. Anderson made her debut in a losing effort to Holly Holm- snapping her 4-fight winning streak. Zingano bested Marion Reneau by a decision to end a 3-fight losing skid that started with her title fight loss to Ronda Rousey.

Cat has fought at Bantamweight and Flyweight, but not Featherweight. She will give up 6 inches of height and 5 inches of reach. Anderson is the younger fighter by 8-years.

Anderson’s debut came after a 17-month layoff and while she had her moments, she was undone by the better fighter. Anderson is big and hits hard. She has 4 wins by TKO, stopping each of her last 4 opponents prior to her UFC debut. She got off to a good start against Holm, hurting her along the cage with an early barrage.

The biggest concern with Zingano has been a lack of consistency. She has had fights where she started slow and rallied. In other fights she she faded after the early exchanges. She offers a good variety in her attack, capable of working both on the mat and on the feet. She does some of her best vertical work in the clinch.

The debut defeat came largely on the basis of Anderson’s counter wrestling. Holm was able to take her down on multiple occasions and grind out the decision. Prior to the Holm fight, Anderson’s Invicta debut was a defeat via submission.

Zingano has a trio of submission wins to go along with multiple stoppages via GNP. She picked up 6 takedowns in her win over Reneau. She lands the majority of her completions from the clinch, utilizing trips and throws. She struggled with the physicality of Ketlen Vieira, routinely losing position during her TDAs.

Anderson hits hard and Cat’s willingness to trade on the feet should favour the bigger, stronger, and longer woman. The concern here is Megan’s TDD. She struggled to fend off the takedowns of Holm and offered almost nothing off her back once she was taken down. Zingano has good wrestling and a nasty top game. Look for Cat to work her way inside, crowd Anderson, and drag her to the mat for some vicious GNP- my prediciton is Cat Zingano to defeat Megan Anderson by TKO.

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135lbs- #14 Douglas Silva de Andrade (25-2-0 1NC) vs Petr Yan (10-1-0)

In a battle of Bantamweights, Brazil’s Douglas Silva de Andrade puts his spot in the rankings on the line when he takes on Russian born Petr Yan. Yan is 2-0 in the UFC, most recently defeating Jin Soo Son in an entertaining fight- he has won 5 in a row. da Andrade is coming off a win over Marlon Vera- he has won 3 of his last 4 to improve to 3-2 in the UFC.

This fight was originally scheduled to go down in November, until Andrade was forced to pull out. Both men are 5’7″, but DSA has a slight 1″ reach advantage. Yan is the younger fighter by 8-years.

The Brazilian has finished 19 of his 25 wins by knockout, including a brutal TKO of Henry Briones. Douglas does his best work when he launches forward behind heavy handed barrages. Against Veran he put up his UFC-best 97 significant strikes.

Yan doesn’t have the finishing numbers of de Andrade, knocking out just 4 opponents in 10 wins. His attack is built around pressure and combination striking. The Russian stays in close range, and was battering Teruto Ishihara along the wall with crisp punches prior to getting the finish.

Andrade is a little stiff with his striking technique, loading up on his power punches. He also has a tendency to leave his chin exposed, opting no to tuck it when trading. He struggled with the more technical and active striking technique of Rob Font, throwing power but failing to connect frequently enough.

The Russian’s willingness to step into the pocket and focus solely on offense does lead to him getting hit a lot. So far his chin has held up. It also opens him up takedowns. While he has improved his defensive wrestling, he is still vulnerable to being put on the mat.

This fight has the potential for fireworks with both men trading hands with bad intentions. de Andrade is the more likely of the 2 to take this fight to the floor and that could be a massive edge if he ops to exploit it. On the feet, de Andrade has to capitalize on Yan’s willingness to get hit because the Russian is the more technical and active fighter. If de Andrade can’t hurt Yan, he is going to struggle to keep pace- my prediction is Petr Yan to defeat Douglas Silva de Andrade by decision.

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155lbs-BJ Penn (16-12-2) vs Ryan Hall (6-1-0)

The long and storied career of “The Prodigy” BJ Penn continues as he searches for his first since 2010 when he takes on the returning Ryan Hall in the Lightweight division. Penn is coming off a decision loss to Dennis Siver to extend his current losing streak to 5 consecutive losses. Hall defeated Artem Lobov in the TUF 22 tournament finale and went on to best Gray Maynard in his sophomore appearance.

Penn is returning to Lightweight after 3 consecutive bouts at 145 pounds. Hall is an inch taller than Penn to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. Ryan is 7-years younger than BJ, but he hasn’t fought in a little over 2-years. Penn hasn’t fought in 17-months.

Penn falls into the category of fighters that have held on way too long. But, he is trying to make the appropriate adjustment to improve his chances of securing a UFC win. He has returned to the Lightweight division where he won’t have to cut to make as big of a weight. He has also opted to take his camp back to Nova Uniao where he feels he does his best work.

A BJJ Black belt, Hall ha a pair of wins by submission as a pro to go along with 2 TUF tournament victories by tap out. On the show, he secured both victories by heel hook the same hold he won his final pre-UFC fight with. Ryan is an unorthodox grappler, diving on limbs and chaining his submission attacks together until something locks in.

The knock on Penn has always been his gas tank. Against Siver, he struggled to match his output as the fight advanced. Even though BJ scored a knockdown late middle frame with a well-timed uppercut, Siver rallied in the last round to outwork him and take the decision. Penn seemed hesitant to engage on the feet, struggling to land with consistency.

Hall’s style is frustrating. He utilizes kicks to maintain distance and will look to change levels when his opponents rushes forward to engage. Against Maynard, he was routinely pulling guard and forcing Gray to back off and avoid a potential grappling exchange.

Penn is the better striker, but Hall’s use of kicks is going to make it difficult for BJ to close the gap with regularity. Penn will find some success early moving forward, but Hall will counter by pulling guard and forcing BJ into energy-draining scrambles. Look for BJ to slow down in rounds 2 and 3, finding fewer avenues to engage- my prediction is Ryan Hall to defeat BJ Penn by decision..

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135lbs- Nathaniel Wood (14-3-0) vs Andre Ewell (14-4-0)

In a battle of prospects coming off big wins over Brazilians, Nathaniel “The Prospect” Wood meets Andre “Mr. Highlight” Ewell in the Bantamweight division. Wood pushed his current winning streak to 6 in a row with an impressive Brabo choke of Johnny Eduardo in his UFC debut. Ewell went into Brazil and took a split decision victory over former Bantamweight champion Renan Barao for his 5th straight win.

Ewell is replacing the injured Tom Duquesnoy, stepping with over a month to prep. He is 5 inches taller than Wood and has a 7″ reach advantage. Wood is the younger man by 5-years.

Against Eduardo, Wood showcased good head movement and timing, but he also displayed his durability in the latter stages of the opening round. “The Prospect” was sticking Eduardo with hard strikes and utilizing head movement to avoid the return fire. Later in the round, the Brazilian clipped Wood and had him in some trouble, but the Brit remained composed and survived to the bell.

Finishing 7 opponents by knockout, Ewell showcased excellent timing dropping Barao early as he came forward. His length makes him difficult to deal with and he does a decent job of landing big strikes from a distance where his opponent is unable to reach him from. He didn’t throw a lot of volume against Barao, but his strikes were impactful and usually unanswered.

While Wood is known for his striking craft, similar to his mentor Brad Pickett, Nathaniel showcased his submission game when he locked Eduardo in a Brabo choke for his 3rd career win via tap out.

The mat appears to be an area of concern for Ewell. He has been submitted twice and struggled tremendously with the wrestling and grappling skills of Barao. The former Champion let him off the hook by opting to strike with “Mr. Highlight” for the majority of rounds 2 and 3.

Wood is talented, but he is also hittable. Ewell has a massive reach and height advantage and will be able to touch Wood on the outside where Wood can’t reach him. The Brit will be forced to constantly close the distance and Ewell will answer with sharp counter striking. Wood could opt to go to the mat, but that takes his best weapons out of the equation. Wood struggles to cover the distance, taking damage the entire time- my prediction is Andre Ewell to defeat Nathaniel Wood by TKO.

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185lbs- #14 Uriah Hall (14-9-0) vs Bevon Lewis (5-0-0)

Making his promotional debut, Bevon “The Extraordinary Gentleman” Lewis gets a huge opportunity when he takes on ranked opponent Uriah “Prime Time” Hall in the Middleweight division. Hall was unable to capitalize on his upset win over Krzysztof Jotko, falling via knockout to Paulo Costa- he has just single win over his last 5 outings. Lewis went 2-0 on the Contenders series and also picked up a pair of victories under the LFA banner.

At 6’3″, Lewis is a full 3 inches taller than Hall, but they will share a 79″ reach. Lewis is the younger man by 7-years.

At this point, Hall’s fighting style is fairly well understood. He is quick and offers a wide variety of flashy kicking techniques. He has stopping power if he connects, but he often finds himself unable to pull the trigger and either gets outworked or knocked out.

Lewis, a training partner of Jon Jones, shows a few similarities with the former champion including reliance on a kick-heavy attack a range and solid use of elbows in close. He has split his 6 pro wins evenly between knockouts and decisions.

Hall’s last 2 victories saw him struggle through the opening frame, overcome adversity, and pick up shocking second-round finishes. Had he not been able to rally in both fights it could be argued that Hall would be on the outside of the UFC roster looking in.

In his most recent Contenders appearance, Lewis showcased the vicious nature of his clinch attack. Utilizing elbows and knees, he hurt his opponent and eventually forced a standing stoppage. He appeared more composed and more concise in his technique.

Hall could connect on a fight changing strike and turn this contest on its ear. That is a difficult scenario to bank on especially considering he has only put together one complete performance over his last 8 outings. Lewis is a talented, but still a developing fighter. But, he comes from an excellent camp and has the type of tools to give Hall problems. Uriah’s hesitations and willingness to put his back to the cage will create openings for Lewis to close the gap, push him into the wall, and either batter him with knees and elbows or take him down- my prediction is Bevon Lewis to defeat Uriah Hall by TKO.Paragraph breaker

170lbs- Curtis Millender (16-3-0) vs Siyar Bahadurzada (23-6-1)

The second fight on the prelims features 6-fight UFC veteran Siyar “The Great” Bahadurzada taking on “Curtious” Curtis Millender in the Welterweight division. Millender is coming off back to back UFC wins, including a savage knockout of Thiago Alves in his UFC debut- he has won 8 in row. Bahadurzada has strung together a trio wins to rebound from a 2-fight losing skid- he was last scene KOing Luan Chagas.

At 6’2″, Millender is 3 inches taller than Siyar to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. The American is the younger man by 3-years.

Bahadurzada has recorded 13 wins by knockout- including 3 of his 4 UFC wins. He throws big power in all his techniques, including a heavy right hand and thudding low kicks. He has a tendency to hang his hands low, counting on his chin to withstand his opponent’s offense.

Millender turned heads with his knockout of Alves which was his 3rd straight. Overall, he has just 6 (T)KO victories in 19 career bouts. He does a good job of managing distance and utilizes his kicks to further keep his foe on the outside and out of reach. If his opponent closes the distance, Curtis’s counter knees are vicious.

Over his 2 UFC defeats, “The Great” gave up 6 takedowns. While he will go to the mat if needed and has submission skills, he lost position against Chagas after taking him down and got his back taken. From top position, he can generate a lot of power, but his stand up his still the key to his success.

Similar to Siyar, Millender has had issues against wrestling heavy adversaries. He has been submitted twice and Max Griffin had success taking him down and keeping him there. Millender looked lost on his back, but Griffin failed to get the fight back in that position.

If Millender can keep Bahadurzada on the outside, he should find success limiting Siyar’s offense while landing his own. Conversely, Siyar’s willingness to wade forward and pressure is his key to victory. Bahadurzada’s wrestling is undervalued, but Millender is not good off his back. Look for Siyar to force Millender to constantly backup before taking Curtis down for prolonged sequences- my prediction is Siyar Bahadurzada to defeat Curtis Millender by decision. Paragraph breaker

135lbs- Brian Kelleher (19-9-0) vs Montel Jackson (6-0-0)

Originally scheduled to transpire at UFC 230 in early November, Brian Kelleher’s poor weight cut and fight day illness led to the cancellation of the fight and subsequent rebooking of his matchup with “Quik” Montel Jackson to UFC 232. In his last fight, Kelleher was knocked out by John Lineker to see his UFC record fall to 3-2. Jackson dropped an entertaining decision to Ricky Simon to bring an end to his undefeated pro record.

Jackson is 4 inches taller and will have a massive 9″reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by 6-years.

Finishing 5 opponents by knockout, Jackson has some decent pop in his hands. He throws with power, but his lack of hand speed and volume were an issue in his last fight.

Kelleher has developed a strong pressure game that can be both overwhelming along with opening him up to taking damage. Against Barao, he outworked and exhausted him but Lineker capitalized on his willingness to get hit and finished him.

Jackson’s wrestling is also a concern as he was taken down on multiple occasions in his debut and Kelleher has shown he can wrestling and threaten with submissions.

If Jackson’s can utilize his reach and keep Kelleher on the outside it is his fight to win. Equally as important, “Quik” must make “Boom” pay on every attempt to close the distance. Kelleher is simply too unpredictable, constantly engaging and keeping the threat of his wrestling present. Jackson will have some success, but he won’t do enough to overcome the New York native- my prediction is Brian Kelleher to defeat Montel Jackson by decision.

170lbs- Zak Ottow (16-6-0) vs Dwight Grant (7-1-0)

The headlining fight of the undercard will feature Milwaukee’s Zak Ottow taking on the debuting “Body Snatcher” Dwight Grant in the Welterweight division. Ottow is coming off a knockout defeat to Sage Northcutt, he has alternated wins and losses over his 6 fight UFC career. Grant scored a knockout win on the Tuesday Night Contender’s series to extend his current winning streak to 7 consecutive fights.

Grant is the taller man by 2 inches, but he will have a 6″ reach advantage. Ottow is the younger man by 2-years.

Ottow does his best work on the mat. A BJJ Black belt, Ottow has secured 10 wins by submission but has yet to tap a UFC opponent. Despite his reliance on the floor, his wrestling has been slightly below average at best. He averages 0.77 takedowns per fight at a 31% completion rate.

In the middle round, Grant showcased his stopping power with a brutal 2 punch combination that floored his Contender’s adversary. He has finished 6 opponents by knockout- 3 in the opening round and 2 more in the 3rd frame.

If forced to compete on the feet his striking is simplistic but can be effective. While he has found some success on the feet, he has knocked out 3-times including twice over his last 3 fights.

Grant’s primary focus is on staying vertical- he has never been submitted nor has he ever submitted an opponent. His defensive game will most likely be tested by Ottow.

Ottow is stepping in for Erik Koch with roughly 2 weeks to prep. From an athletic standpoint, he doesn’t have a lot to offer but he does well with what he has. If he can consistently drag Grant to the floor he could grind out a decision or earn is first submission win. Unfortunately, he lacks the overall durability to deal with an aggressive power puncher if his wrestling doesn’t hold up- my prediction is Dwight Grant to defeat Zak Ottow by knockout.

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125lbs- #9 Jessica-Rose Clark (9-4-0 1NC) vs #13 Andrea Lee (9-2-0)

With a new champion crowned, Women’s Flyweights Jessica-Rose Clark and Andrea “KGB” Lee square off looking to take the next step towards title contention. Clark is coming off a decision loss to Jessica Eye that ended her 3 fight winning streak including her 2-0 UFC start. Lee made a successful debut, earning a decision win over Veronica Macedo to extend her current winning streak to 5 straight.

Lee is just an inch taller but will have a noteworthy 5″ reach advantage. She is also the younger girl by 2-years.

“KGB” draws upon a nice variety of combat experience including Muay Thai, BJJ, Judo, and Karate. In addition to her varied background, Lee has faced strong competition throughout her career both in Legacy and Invicta.

Clark is coming off of a decision loss that dropped her record to 5-5 on the scorecards. She is 2-1 in split decisions which raises questions about her ability to distance herself in close fights.

In her debut win, Lee utilized a strong kicking attack at range and worked knees in the clinch before taking her opponent down and attacking with submissions. She will utilize a head and arm throw which cost her positional control if not done correctly.

Arguably, Clarks best weapons are her low kicks and knees in the clinch. Despite those skills, she might opt to go to her wrestling in order to remove the striking ability of Lee from the equation.

Clark’s wrestling could offset the striking skills of Lee, but that would also be a slight deviation from her normal approach and take her out of her comfort zone. Lee is the more diversified striker and offers a little more volume. Look for Andrea to utilize her footwork and greater striking variety to edge out Clark on the scorecards- my prediction is Andrea Lee to defeat Jessica-Rose Clark by decision.

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155lbs- Bobby Green (24-8-1) vs Drakkar Klose (9-1-1)

In the Lightweight division, 5-fight Strikeforce veteran “King” Bobby Green looks to rebuild his momentum when he meets Drakkar Klose. Klose is coming off a decision win over Lando Vannatta to rebound from the first defeat of his career- a decision loss to David Teymur. Bobby Green picked up a draw with Vannatta and most recently earned a decision victory over Erik Koch last January.

Green is an inch taller than Klose and will have a 1″ reach advantage as well. Klose is the younger man by 2 years.

With a period of inactivity behind him, Green put together his most complete performance in his win over Koch. He landed over 100 strikes and utilized his head movement and footwork to slip in and out of range, serving to limit the offence of his opponent.

The success of Klose has been the melding together of aggressive power punching and timely takedowns. He has successfully taken down all 4 of his opponents and completed 8 takedowns over that stretch.

Boasting a 71% TDD, Green is not easy to get off of his feet. When he is taken down he is a capable scrambler and usually works back to his feet quickly.

Klose isn’t the fastest fighter and seemed a little frustrated with the measured pace of Teymur, struggling to close the gap. He throws some decent leg kicks and will tag the body as well. Klose’s volume is an area of concern as he tends to hit his ceiling in the 50-60 striking range.

Green is the superior technical striker and he has the movement to replicate the frustrations that Klose had with Teymur. If Drakkar is unable to secure takedowns and subsequent top control, he will be hardpressed to match the output of “King” Bobby. Green’s counter wrestling is solid and will force Klose to work hard to get his wrestling involved. A split decision is a legit outcome here, with Green offering a little more volume in the final frame- my prediction is Bobby Green to defeat Drakkar Klose by decision.

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155lbs- Jared Gordon (14-2-0) vs Joaquim Silva (10-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, Jared “Flash” Gordon meets Brazil’s Joaquim “Neto BJJ” Silva. Silva is coming off the first loss of his career, a decision defeat against Vinc Pichel- he started his UFC run 3-0. Gordon started his UFC run with back to back wins to extend his overall winning streak to 5 straight, but he is coming off a loss to Carlos Ferreira.

Gordon is an inch taller, but Silva will have a 1″ reach advantage. The Brazilian hasn’t fought in almost 11-months- he is the younger man by a year.

With an offensive attack built around pressure and pace, “Flash” looks to overwhelm his adversary both on the feet and the floor. Gordon landed 101 significant strikes in his win over Dias and completed 6 takedowns over his first 2 UFC fights.

Silva’s definitive knockout win over Andrew Holbrook was sandwiched between a pair of split decision wins. In one fight he landed more strikes but struggled to fend off his opponent’s takedowns. While his debut victory saw him land fewer strikes, but get the better of the ground exchanges.

Gordon’s willingness to press forward does open him up to taking damage and Ferreira made him pay for it. Gordon opens himself up in the pocket when swinging and needs to improve his defensive focus.

Prior to entering the UFC, Silva recorded all 7 of his wins in the opening and has just a single victory outside of the first 5 minutes. He is a capable striker, but he relies more on power than consistency which could be the root of his struggles outside of the first round.

“Flash” has a fight plan that is tailor-made to get the better of Silva, but he still needs to be careful. Gordon’s volume striking will far outstretch the offensive output of Silva over a full 3-rounds, but the Ferreira knockout suggests that Silva could land a fight-changing blow. Silva has struggled when pressed with takedowns and Gordon could opt to blend his wrestling into his attack to lessen the threat of Silva’s striking. Gordon simply has more avenues to victory- my prediction is Jared Gordon to defeat Joaquim Silva by decision.

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185lbs- Gerald Meerschaert (28-9-0) vs Jack Hermansson (17-4-0)

In the second of 2 Middleweight bouts to go down on this card, Milwaukee’s own Gerald “GM3” Meerschaert takes on “The Joker” Jack Hermansson. Hermansson is coming off of a come-from-behind win over Thales Leites and is 3-1 over his last 4 UFC outings. In similar fashion, Meerschaert rallied passed Oskar Piechota with a 2nd round choke to improve to 4-1 in the UFC.

Both men are 6’1″ and will share an identical 77″ reach. Hermanson is the younger man by a year.

Meerschaert has been finding success in recent fights, rallying from poor starts to earn stoppages wins over both Piechota and Eric Spicely. He has yet to see the scorecards in the UFC and has submitted 20 opponents overall.

In a similar fashion, Hermansson has finished each of his last 3 wins- all by TKO. It is worth noting that of Jack’s 14 finishes, 7 of them have come after the first round.

Meerschaert is a serviceable striker that can trade, but he does his best work on the mat. He has completed 6 takedowns over his last 3 fights and showcased a strong transitional grappling attacking working towards setting up a submission finish.

Hermannson’s recent success has been his ability to meld together a solid striking game and a vastly improving ground attack. His focus has been scoring takedowns and going to work with heavy ground and pound, eventually scoring the finish. Conversely, he has had issues on the floor with a pair of submission losses and Leites was having success on the ground before tiring.

Hermanson is the more gifted striker and carries his offence deep into fights. A continuance of Meerschaert’s recent poor starts would be his undoing here as Jack is the type of fighter that keeps pouring on the offence once he gains an advantage. “GM3” has the skills to replicate the mat struggles of “Joker”, if he can score a takedown or catch him in a scramble- that is a big if. Hermansson will work his volume game on the feet, utilizing movement to avoid the grappling exchanges- my prediction is Jack Hermansson to defeat Gerald Meerschaert by TKO.

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145lbs- Dan Ige (9-2-0) vs Jordan Griffin (17-5-0)

In the Featherweight division, “Dynamite” Dan Ige welcomes Contenders Series graduate Jordan Griffin to the UFC. Ige rebounded from his UFC debut defeat with a 50 second TKO victory over Mike Santiago- he has just a single loss in his last 8 outings. Griffin is riding a 4-fight winning streak that includes a trio of victories in 2018.

Griffin is the taller man by 3 inches and will have an inch of reach. Ige is the younger man by a year.

Despite making his UFC debut, Griffin has a 2:1 edge in overall experience over Ige. He showcased his veteran demeanour in his last fight, surviving and countering out of a tight submission attempt.

Ige, also a graduate of the Tuesday night show, is a BJJ Black belt with a 4 pack of submission wins. He failed to make his ground game a factor in his debut, but scrambled his way to Santiago’s back and pounded him out for the quick stoppage.

Griffin has a nice balance of wins with 5 coming by knockout and 8 submission victories. He scored a knockdown with a left hook prior to getting the RNC win during his Contender’s bout.

“Dynamite” is still working to round out his striking attack and the lack of depth in his vertical offence was his downfall in his debut.

Griffin is debuting, but he is also fighting at home. That being said, his willingness to launch forward will open him up to absorbing damage on the feet and allow Ige to change levels for takedowns. Griffin has been submitted twice and Ige is a handful on the floor. Dan will survive the early onslaught before putting Griffin on the floor- my prediction is Dan Ige to defeat Jordan Griffin by submission.

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205lbs- Adam Milstead (8-2-0 1NC) vs Mike Rodriguez (9-3-0)

Making his 2nd appearance at Light Heavyweight, Adam “The Prototype” Milstead meets promotional sophomore Mike “Slow” Rodriguez. Milstead dropped a split decision to Jordan Johnson- he is 1-1 in the UFC with a loss to Curtis Blaydes overturned to a No Contest. Rodriguez was undone on the scorecards in his debut against Devin Clark- he got the call to the big stage on the strength of a Contenders series knockout win.

Rodriguez is an inch taller than Milstead and will have a sizeable 6″ reach advantage.

Milstead had finished 6 opponents by knockout and showcased his volume striking against Johnson. He landed 58 significant strikes, working behind a jab and slinging hard combinations.

In similar fashion, Rodriguez has finished 7 opponents by knockout- all in the opening in the round. He is just 2-2 outside of the first frame.

Both men have had issues with their TDD, the Johnson fight turned against Milstead when he gave up takedowns and Clark completed 7 in his win over “Slow” Rodriguez.

Both men are fairly durable, so this fight could come down to cardio. Milstead slowed in the later stages against Johnson but he has won 3 of his 4 fights to go beyond the first round.

Rodriguez is a measured fighter and tends to rely on his power to make up the difference and ultimately bring about the finish. Milstead is the more active striker, pushing forward and throwing punches in bunches. “The Prototype” is also the more likely to go to the mat, despite failing to show his wrestling in the UFC. Rodriguez is dangerous, but unless he can get Milstead out of there in the opening round he is going to struggling to match his workrate- my prediction is Adam Milstead to defeat Mike Rodriguez by decision.

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185lbs- Trevor Smith (15-8-0) vs Zak Cummings (21-6-0)

In the Middleweight division, a pair of Strikeforce alumni square off as Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith meets former Welterweight Zak Cummings. Smith is coming off a defeat to Elias Theodorou and has just a single win in his last 3 outings. Cummings comes into this bout following a loss to Michel Prazeres which snapped a 2 fight winning streak.

While Zak has spent the majority of his UFC career at Welterweight, he has had issues making weight and has previously fought as high as Light Heavyweight. Smith also fought at 205 pounds and is 3 inches taller than Cummings. They share the same reach and Cummings is the younger man by 4-years.

Both men have had a lot of success with their grappling attacks. Smith has secured 9 of his 15 wins by submission, but none in the UFC. Cummings has 10 wins by tap out, accounting for 50% of his 6 UFC triumphs.

Smith has landed at least 1 takedown in 7 of his 10 Octagon outings, completing 11 over his last 4 fights. Cummings relied on his wrestling more in the early stages of his UFC run and has actually given up 5 completions over his last 3 fights.

On the feet, Smith likes to press forward and grind on his foe in the clinch while Cummings has a solid counterstriking attack.

If Cummings can consistently maintain distance, he has the sharp striking to outpoint Smith. The big concern here is Smith’s willingness to wade through punches and back Zak to the cage where he will grind on him and potentially land takedowns. Cummings doesn’t have the overwhelming volume to make up for Smith’s positional control. Trevor will utilize his size and get the better of Cummings early, grinding his way to lead on the cards and holding on late- my prediction is Trevor Smith to defeat Zak Cummings by decision.

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265lbs- Chris De La Rocha (5-2-0) vs Juan Adams (4-0-0)

Fresh off his first UFC win, Chris De La Rocha welcomes the debuting Juan “The Kraken” Adams to the Heavyweight division. De La Rocha defeated Rashad Coulter at UFC 225 to rally from his 2-fight slump. Adams is coming off an opening round win on the Tuesday Night Contender’s Series- his second win of his 2018.

At 6’5″, Adams will stand 2 inches taller than De La Rocha with a slight 1″ reach advantage. He is 13-years younger than De La Rocha and could weigh upwards to 15-pounds more than the 39-year old.

De La Rocha’s willingness to absorb damage as had mixed results on the big stage. After getting finished quickly in his debut, he was batter by Adam Milstead from start to finish. He took some big strikes in the Coulter win, only taking over the fight once he put Coulter on the mat.

In his Contender’s fight, Adams fought at close range, taking a few shots but hammering his foe with multiple hard left jabs and heavy rights. He has finished all 4 of his fights via opening round knockout.

Prior to his UFC arrival, De La Rocha split his 4 wins evenly between knockouts and submissions- only seeing the 2nd round once.

“The Kraken” successfully fended off a couple of attempts to take him down and a desperation heel hook attempt, all the while punishing his foe with strikes before getting the ground stoppage.

De La Rocha is more dangerous than he would appear, but he is certainly at a disadvantage here. Adam is still pretty green and has yet to see the action beyond the opening round. If Chris can force him beyond the opening 5 minutes, he could find success as Juan fades. Adams is the more athletic fighter and should have a size and slight speed advantage. Look for Adams to back De La Rocha up with pressure, fend off a few early TDAs and land strikes as Chris stays committed to his ill-fated TDAs- my prediction is Juan Adams to defeat Chris De La Rocha by TKO.

115lbs- #3 Claudia Gadelha (16-3-0) vs #11 Nina Ansaroff (9-5-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, former title challenger Claudia Gadelha takes on Nina Ansaroff in the Strawweight division. Gadelha is coming off a split decision win over Carla Esparza and has won 3 of her last 4 fights. Ansaroff started his UFC run with back to back losses, but she has since righted the ship with a trio of wins- most recently besting Randa Markos.

Nina is an inch taller and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Claudia is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Gadleha is a monster on the mat. She is physically strong with the technical skill to back it up. She has recorded 7 wins by submission, but just 1 in the UFC. She has completed 31 takedowns over 8 fights and Jessica Andrade was the only fighter to stop her TDAs.

Nina can work on the mat, but she has focussed most of her wrestling on remaining vertical. She stopped 10 of Markos’ 11 takedowns attempts and was able to limit Justine Kish to just 3 completions on 10 attempts. Ansaroff does have a couple of submission wins and she can do damage with her ground and pound.

If Gadelha is forced to compete on her feet, she is capable of holding her own. Gadelha has power and can offer a decent striking attack, but she has been known to slow down especially if forced away from her primary method of attack.

If the American is going to get the nod here she will need to maintain distance and draw on her greater variety of striking tools. Ansaroff will throw a number of different kicks and showcased her volume game against in her win over Angela Hill. She landed her UFC-best 147 significant strikes.

Gadelha’s cardio is always a concern and Nina has the pace to capitalize if she can wear her down early enough. Claudia has a solid jab which will allow her to set up her mat game, changing levels and dragging Nina down with consistency. Ansaroff will make her work for it, which could tire the Brazilian out, but not before she gets a pair of rounds in the books- my prediction is Claudia Gadelha to defeat Nina Ansaroff by decision.Paragraph breaker

125lbs- #3 Katlyn Chookagian (11-1-0) vs #9 Jessica Eye (12-6-0 1NC)

With the Championship gold on the line in the co-main event, both Katlyn Chookagian and Jessica will attempt to position themselves for a future title shot in the Flyweight division. Chookagian is already 2-0 in the division, most recently defeating Alexis Davis. Eye has also made the best of her return to the division, winning a pair of contests over Kalindra Faria and Jessica Rose-Clark.

Chook is the taller fighter by 3 inches and she will have a 2″ reach advantage. She is the younger fighter by 2-years.

Spending the first portion of her career at 125 pounds, Eye has re-established herself as a contender after almost flaming out of the UFC. She is 9-5 in decision including a 2-2 record in split decisions.

With a similarly decision-heavy record, Chookagian has won 8 of her 9 fights to go to the scorecards. She has gone to a split decision twice, with a .500 record. Despite her heavy reliance on her striking, Katlyn has been outlanded in each of her last 2 fights.

Eye is known for her standup game and the majority of her defeats at Bantamweight were the product of her inability to defend takedowns. Turning the tables in her 125-pound return, she utilized her wrestling to grab the win and could do so here.

Chookagian will utilize a lot of lateral movement on the outside, but she isn’t a major power threat so her output is key. Her counter wrestling and clinch defence have been a point of question, but beyond Liz Carmouche, no one has been able to exploit these gaps with regularity.

Both girls do the majority of their work on the feet, but as previously mentioned Eye is the more likely to take this fight to the floor. She needs to mix in some successful takedown bids and top control time potentially counter Chook’s superior workrate. Katlyn as the edge in output and her use of a strong jab, her reach, and lateral movement will further limit the conneciton rate of Eye. Chookagian has faired much better in decisions which this fight almost certainly comes down to- my prediction is Katlyn Chookagian to defeat Jessica Eye by decision.

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185lbs- #14 Elias Theodorou (16-2-0) vs Eryk Anders (11-2-0)

TUF Nations Middleweight winner Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou puts his 2-fight winning streak on the line against University of Alabama football standout Eryk “Ya Boi” Anders. Theodorou is 4-1 in his last 5 with his only loss coming against Brad Tavares- he has won back to back fights against Dan Kelly and Trevor Smith. Anders took a short notice bout at Light Heavyweight against Thiago Santos and lost via TKO in the 3rd frame- he is 3-2 in the UFC.

Both me are 6’1″ and share the same 75″ reach. Elias is the younger man by a year, but he started his pro MMA career 4 years before Anders.

The Canadian has developed a style of fighting where he engages either all the way in or all the way out. At distance, Elias utilizes a kick-heavy attack and lateral movement. If he opts to close the gap, he will clinch and look for takedown opportunities.

Ander utilizes a more aggressive and straightforward attack. He has finished 7 opponents by knockout, packing significant power in his left hand. He does his best work when he cuts off the cage and lets his hands go.

Theodorou is known for his cardio and attempts to remain elusive, but he is still susceptible to taking damage and slowing down. He is coming off his best 2 striking totals. Elias has had issues with finding a balance between flash and functionality, often throwing techniques that look good but have limited impact.

While Anders is an aggressive striker, he has had issues finding his range. Lyoto Machida utilized a kick-heavy attack to keep him on the outside and limit Anders’ striking success. Anders has power, but he will swing and miss a lot which will negatively impact his cardio later in the fight.

Anders’ previous struggles with closing the distance against kick heavy opponents is concerning, but Elias doesn’t offer the power threat that Eryk has dealt with before. Elias is usually able to muscle around his opponents which won’t be the case here and he has struggled against foes that can get their hands on him. Look for Anders to land the more impactful offence, constantly pushing forward against the Canadian. Theodorou’s willingness to backtrack won’t sit well with the judges- my prediction is Eryk Anders to defeat Elias Theodorou by decision.

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155lbs- Olivier Aubin-Mercier (12-3-0) vs Gilbert Burns (14-3-0)

Originally scheduled to go down early in 2018, Canada’s Olivier Aubin-Mercier meets Brazilian-born Gilbert Burns in the Lightweight division. OAM tore through a 4-pack of opposition prior to running into the fast-rising Alexander Hernandez, dropping a unanimous decision in July. Burns started his UFC career 3-0, but he has since gone 3-3 and most recently was knocked out by Dan Hooker.

Burns is an inch taller and will have an inch of reach as well. The French-Canadian is the younger man by 3-years.

OAM, a BJJ Brown belt and Judo Black belt, has been working to round out his striking. In a similar fashion, Burns has started to move away from his grappling-heavy reputation with a pair of recent knockout wins.

The Canadian has shown a willingness to engage talented grapplers on the mat, taking Tony Martin down on multiple occasions. While Olivier has some decent kicking techniques and his hands are improving, his output needs to improve.

Burns has 5 knockouts, but he could be walking the line between becoming a well-rounded fighter and straying too far from the skills that brought him to the dance. One of Gilbert’s best vertical technique is his right leg body kick which will be open against a Southpaw like Aubin-Mercier.

Olivier is coming off the first fight where he was taken down, giving up 4 completions against Hernandez. He landed 2 takedowns of his own and has taken down all but 2 of his foes- he won both fights.

While this fight could avoid the mat altogether, OAM is the more likely to look for a takedown. The threat of Burns’s BJJ could make him hesitant to go to the floor. Burns is the more aggressive striker and has more weapons to engage with. At range, he will attack with kicks and he should find success with a quick jab and subsequent power punches. OAM struggles when he can’t find initial success with his ground attack, that continues here- my prediction is Gilbert Burns to defeat Olivier Aubin-Mercier by knockout

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205lbs- Devin Clark (9-2-0) vs Alexsandar Rakic (9-1-0)

In FightPass headliner, Devin “Brown Bear” Clark takes on fast-rising Austria Alexsandar Rakic in the Light Heavyweight division. Clark is 3-2 in the UFC, most recently besting Mike Rodriguez by decision at UFC 223. Rakic has won both his UFC outings, most recently taking a one-sided decision over Justin Ledet to extend his winning streak to 10.

Devin has spent some time at Middleweight- Rakic is the taller man by 4 inches to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. The Austrian is the younger man by 2 years.

A former collegiate wrestler, Clark has leaned heavily on his wrestling in his victories. In his last outing, he completed 7 takedowns and he has landed 12 completions over his 3 UFC triumphs.

In a similar fashion, Rakic used his top game and heavy GNP to beat up Ledet for prolonged periods of time. In addition to his success on the mat, he showcased an impressive striking attacking; battering his adversary’s legs with hard low kicks and pairing together hard multi-punch combos.

Brown formerly competed at Middleweight and traditionally has a speed advantage over most opponents. Unfortunately, he is also undersized which was an issue against Jan Blachowicz and it stands to be one here as well.

Despite going the distance, Rakic’s win was incredibly dominant; he landed 104 significant strikes to just 12 for Ledet.

Clark got knocked out at Middleweight and will be facing a far heavier hitter with a strong kickboxing background. Rakic’s improved wrestling should prove good enough to negate Brown’s best offensive weapon and force him to trade on feet. Look for the big Austrian to batter Clark with low kicks before launching forward with heavy combinations, eventually connecting with a fight ender- my prediction is Alexsandar Rakic to defeat Devin Clark by TKO.

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135lbs- Brad Katona (8-0-0) vs Matthew Lopez (10-4-0)

TUF 27 Featherweight tournament winner Brad “Superman” Katona takes his first steps beyond the reality shown when he takes on Matthew Lopez in the Bantamweight division. Katona held onto his undefeated mark with a TUF 27 tournament finals win over Jay Cucciniello in July. Lopez has lost back to back fights and is currently 2-3 inside the Octagon.

Despite Katona winning the show at 145 pounds, he is the shorter man by an inch and will give up 4 inches of reach. The Canadian is the younger man by 4-years.

Lopez has showcased a decent wrestling attack and serviceable striking. Unfortunately, he has also been finished in 3 of his Octagon defeats. It is worth noting that all of his stoppage defeats have come later in fights and are tied to a questionable gas tank.

Including his debut, Katona has gone the distance in 4 of his last 5 fights- finishing the 5th fight in the final seconds of the 3rd round. He has just a trio of finishes- 2 by submission.

Lopez ended all but 1 of his first 8 pro fights in the opening round. Since making the jump to the UFC, he has just a single first-round finish over 5 fights.

Katona offers a nice variety of offence; throwing hard hooks to the body and attacking his opponent’s base with low leg kicks to the ankle. He uses a lot of movement on the outside is patient when looking to engage.

The Canadian is the more calculated and technical striker and this should bode well for him as the fight advances beyond the first frame. He needs to be careful not to get out work early and fall behind. Lopez is a hard worker, but often overextends himself and can’t maintain his output. Both fighters can wrestle which could force this fight into a striking battle. Katona will be on the defensive early, but eventually he takes the action over- my prediction is Brad Katona to defeat Matthew Lopez by TKO.

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170lbs- Chad Laprise (14-3-0) vs Dhiego Lima (14-7-0)

TUF Nations winner and Canada-born Chad “The Disciple” Laprise takes on fellow Ultimate Fighter alumni Dhiego Lima in the Welterweight division. Laprise is coming off a knockout loss to Vicente Luque, he had previously won a trio of fights all by TKO. Lima went 1-3 during his first UFC tenure and after a 2-1 run on the regional scene, he returned to the Octagon where he has lost back to back fights.

After spending some time at Lightweight, Laprise seems set on staying at 170 pounds. Lima is the taller man by 4 inches to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. The Brazilian is also the younger man by 3-years.

Laprise has developed as a well-rounded fighter. In prolonged fights, he can unload with decent volume and mix in takedowns when needed. The Canadian utilizes a lot of movement and has undervalued power.

Flat out, Lima has struggled to find success in the UFC. In his only Octagon win, he utilized his wrestling to win a takedown-heavy decision. He has 7 wins inside the distance, but he has finished a foe since 2013- 10 fights.

One of the mounting issues with Laprise has been his chin and durability. At times he has struggled against opposition that has forced him beyond his technical approach and into more of a brawl. Chad has been knocked out twice, but we have also seen him hurt in fights.

Similarly, Lima has had his own issues holding up under pressure. He has suffered through 4 knockout defeats, all occurring over his last 6 losses.

The growing concern over Laprise’s chin could continue to catch up to him against a larger man. If it doesn’t, he has the edge here in almost every category. He will find success as the more active and technically versed striker. Lima has also struggled with his counter wrestling which could encourage Laprise to shoot if needed. The combo of the Canadian’s speed and pace will be too much for Dhiego- my prediction is Chad Laprise to defeat Dhiego Lima by knockout.Paragraph breaker

155lbs- Diego Ferreira (13-2-0) vs Kyle Nelson (12-1-0)

After a pair of opponents fell through, Diego Ferreira will still make the walk to the Octagon opposing late notice replacement Kyle Nelson. Ferreira appears to have put his 2 fight slump behind him with back to back wins over Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Jared Gordon. Nelson enters the Octagon on the strength of a 6-fight winning streak, winning his most recent outing just under a month ago- he owns a 2016 split decision win over Jonathan Brookins.

Nelson is stepping in with just a couple days to prep, he is replacing Jesse Ronson who was replacing John Makdessi. Nelson is an inch taller but they will have an identical reach. Kyle is 6-years younger than his Brazilian counterpart. The Canadian has been fighting at 155 in recent action but he prefers to compete at 145 pounds.

Ferreira is a dangerous grappler, capable of ending a fight in just about any position. He lacks a strong wrestling skill set to bring his ground skills to bear, often relying on his opponents to take the fight to the floor.

Nelson will be fighting at home at UFC 231, but he has spent sometime fight abroad. His last 3 opponents carry a combined record of 18-9. His 12 wins are divided evenly between knockouts, submissions, and decisions.

Ferreira has knockout power, stopping 2 of his last 3 foes. He also found success outworking Olivier Aubin-Mercier on the feet. Diego is not a one-dimensional fighter, but he may opt to utilize his ground skills against Nelson.

The Canadian has a well-rounded record, but taking the step up to the big stage will require him to focus on his strengths. His striking attack appears to be his best avenue to victory against Ferreira, but if he can wear Diego down Nelson can do some damage from top position.

This is a tough fight to predict. Nelson has next to no time to prep and as a result, there will be zero expectations and minimal pressure. Ferreira will also be limited by the time, as he will have had hardly had opponent specific preparation in camp. If Nelson can keep this fight standing, he could take advantage of Diego’s aggression, but that is a big if. Look for Diego to get back to his base and utilize his grappling skills- my prediction is Diego Ferreira to defeat Kyle Nelson by submission.

265lbs- Juan Espino (8-1-0) vs Justin Frazier (10-2-0)

The Heavyweight finals of the TUF 28 tournament will feature Team Whittaker representative Juan Espino taking on Team Gastelum’s Justin Frazier. Frazier has won his last 3 pro fights, losing most recently under the Bellator banner and previous to that he fell via TKO to Derrick Lewis in 2012. Espino has won 6 in a row with his only pro defeat coming back in 2011- a 9-second knockout loss to Vitaly Minakov.

Standing 6’4″, Espino will be 4 inches taller than Frazier to go along with a 7″reach advantage.  Frazier should be the heavier man by 5 to 10 pounds. He is also the younger man by 9-years.

In the tournament, Frazier was the last pick of Kelvin Gastelum but he scored an upset win over Whittaker’s #1 pick in the quarter-finals and a first frame TKO in the semis.

Espino was the second Heavyweight selected by Robert Whittaker, earning a decision win in the opening round and a submission victory in the semi-finals. His wins came over the top 2 picks of Team Gastelum.

Frazier has recorded 8 pro wins by knockout- his last 3 opponents were a combined 18-13. He has never seen the second round as a pro.

Espino earned submission in 5 of his 8 wins. His most recent trio of adversaries carry a combined record of 19-63 with a single foe accounting for 46 of those defeats.

Both fighters get the majority of their wins on the mat- Frazier via strikes and Juan with submissions. Neither man is a strong striker, but they have shown flashes of capability. Frazier needs to close the gap and either brawl with Espino or get him to the mat. Look for Espino to counter the forward pressure by changing levels for a single leg takedown. Frazier’s cardio, although potentially improved, won’t hold up well if he spends any time on his back.

To reach the finals, Justin beat a striker that couldn’t wrestle and a wrestler and wouldn’t strike. Espino is the taller and longer figther, the more technical, and the better conditioned- my prediction is Juan Espino to defeat Justin Frazier by submission.

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145lbs- Pannie Kianzad (9-3-0) vs Macy Chaison (2-0-0)

The bid to build a Women’s Featherweight division and a potential title challenger comes down to Pannie Kianzad and Macy Chaison. Kianzad has won back to back bouts after struggling through a 3 fight skid that included losses to Sarah Kaufman and Tonya Evinger. Chaison has just a pair of pro bouts, most recently earning a decision over Allison Schmidt under the Invicta banner.

Chiason is the taller girl by 2 inches, but she is also the older fighter by a year. Kianzad had multiple failed attempts to make 135, competing in catchweight bouts before bumping up to the Featherweight division.

In the tournament, Pannie picked up a pair of decision wins on route to the final. Chaison stopped UFC-tested Larissa Pacheco in the quarter-finals and added another opening frame finish in the semis.

Kianzad has a sizeable experience advantage both in quality and quantity. She won the Cage Warriors Bantamweight title and has fought 5 opponents with UFC experience, beating 3 of them. She also debuted back in 2012 compared to Chaison who just turned pro in 2017.

True to what she has shown on the reality show, Kianzad’s record is decision heavy with 7 of her 9 wins coming on the scorecards. Both of Chiason’s pro fights have gone to the final round, but she did finish her debut by submission.

Working behind a solid jab, Kianzad throws fluid punches augmented by a decent kicking game. She will also look to take the fight to the floor with a serviceable double leg. Chaison showed more aggression in her attack, brutalizing her semi-final opponent with big knees in the clinch. While she might not be as technically sound as Kianzad, she really puts the pressure on her adversary.

Kianzad appears to be a Bantamweight that just can’t consistently cut that last pound. That is concerning against the bigger Chaison. Pannie needs to keep technical, utilizing volume and then a quick level change to counter the forward pressure of Chaison. Macy hits very hard and picks her spots well. Once she opens up, she can be overwhelming- especially at close range. Kianzad will have success with her boxing, but Chaison will start to break her down with her powerful offence both at range and on the inside- my prediction is Macy Chaison to defeat Pannie Kianzad by TKO.

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145lbs- Rick Glenn (21-5-1) vs Kevin Aguilar (14-1-0)

In a bout that has undergone a significant facelift, Rick “The Gladiator Glenn” takes on the debuting Kevin “The Angle of Death” Aguilar. The former WSOF Featherweight champion, Glenn is coming off a huge split decision win over Dennis Bermudez he is 3-2 in the UFC, but has lost just once at Featherweight. Aguilar has won 7 in a row dating back to a 2013 loss to Leonard Garcia- he owns a win over UFC veteran Damon Jackson.

Glenn is 5 inches taller than Aguilar, but Kevin will have a surprising 2″ reach advantage. Glenn, a southpaw, is the younger man by a year.

This fight was originally scheduled to feature Gilbert Melendez facing Arnold Allen. Glenn replaced Melendez with 3 weeks to prepare. Aguilar took Allen’s place on November 16 with roughly 14 days to get ready.

A durable fighter with pop in his hands- Glenn has shown a willingness to exchange. He struggled with the takedowns of Bermudez but won the fight on the strength of his striking.

With a solid regional record, Aguilar has finished 10 opponents by knockout. He earned a split decision on his Contender’s fight despite struggling with the aggressive wrestling of his foe.

Aguilar is a willing combatant, but the durability of Glenn could prove to be a major issue. Kevin won all 4 of his decisions, but more recently he has picked up a pair of split decisions against improved opposition. Glenn doesn’t have a great record in decisions either, but he has faced superior competition. Glenn will find success moving forward with volume and with Aguilar on short notice, he could struggle against Glenn’s gruelling assault- my prediction is Rick Glenn to defeat Kevin Aguilar by decision.

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125lbs- #3 Joseph Benavidez (25-5-0) vs #12 Alex Perez (21-4-0)

In a division on life support, former Flyweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez takes on rising prospect Alex Perez. Benavidez is coming off a decision loss to Sergio Pettis, ending a 6-fight winning streak. Perez is 2-0 in the UFC, defeating Eric Shelton in his debut and blasting Jose Torres via first-round knockout in an incredibly entertaining sophomore brawl.

Perez is the taller man by 2 inches, but they will share a 65″ reach. Perez is the younger man by 8-years.

Benavidez came up short in 2 bids to capture the title and despite holding a narrow win over the current champ- he will most likely not get another shot at the title.

Benavidez isn’t the wrestler he once was and while he can put up some decent volume totals, he doesn’t have the stopping power he used to have and his durability has taken a hit.

Landing an impressive 84 significant strikes in under 4 minutes, Perez went off against Torres. While he did expose himself to taking some damage, his durability and aggression held up leading to the knockout.

Perez is a strong wrestler, capable of landing takedowns and defending his opponent’s attempt to put him down. Benavidez is going to struggle to win the takedown battle which is problematic if he doesn’t find success with his striking. He has been dropped on a couple of occasions and is going to struggle to match the pace of the younger fighter. Perez comes out aggressive again, backs Joe up and eventually puts him away- my prediction is Alex Perez to defeat Joseph Benavidez by knockout.

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265lbs- Michel Batista (4-0-0 1NC) vs Maurice Greene (5-2-0)

The Heavyweight consultation bout will feature Legacy alumni Maurice Greene squaring off with Olympic wrestler Michel Batista. Greene is coming off a 5-round decision loss at LFA 38, ending his 4 fight winning streak. Batista has won back to back bouts as a pro with a No Contest sandwiched in the middle of his record.

At 6’7″, Greene is a clear 4 inches taller than his counterpart and will have a 1″ reach advantage. He will also weigh-in roughly 10 pounds heavier. Maurice is the younger man by 2-years.

In the tournament, Greene ended his quarter-final fight via first-round knockout before an abrupt TKO loss to Juan Espino in the semis. Batista emerged from the quarters on the strength of a 2nd round TKO. Similarly, he was dispatched via TKO by Justin Fraizer in the first frame of the Semi-finals.

This contest is almost certainly going to play out as the prototypical striker versus grappler. Greene will want to build on his kickboxing background and outwork and overwhelm Batasita on the feet. Conversely, the Olympic wrestler is going to look to close the distance change levels and dump Greene on the floor.

Batista’s striking attack is almost non-existent and he looks uncomfortable when forced to trade on the feet. If Greene can shut down Batatisa’s early attempt to drag him down, it will be a major confidence boost for Maurice and render the Cuban an almost non-factor offensively. Michel will utilize a single leg which is ideal against a large man, but the reach, height, and range weapons of Greene will make closing that gap treacherous. A lot can change between the show and their official debut, but Batista’s struggles on the feet are just too much of a concern- my prediction is Maurice Greene to defeat Michel Bautista by TKO.

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145lbs- Leah Letson (4-1-0) vs Julija Stoliarenko (4-2-2)

In the Women’s Featherweight consolation final, Leah Letson takes on Lithuanian Julija Stoliarenko. Letson dropped her pro debut, but has since won 4 straight fights including her most recent victory coming over UFC veteran Elizabeth Phillips. Stoliarenko started her career 1-2-2 including a loss to Lucie Pudilova, but she has since torn through a trio of opponents.

Both girls are 5’7″, but Letson will have a 5″ reach advantage. Stoliarenko has spent some time at 135 pounds prior to entering the tournament.

Stoliarenko picked up a submission win in the opening round of the tournament before falling via decision to Pannie Kianzad. Letson won a decision in her first fight but lost to Macy Chaisson by TKO in the semis.

Letson is tenacious with her attack, trying to overwhelm her opponent with a constant barrage of offense. Her head kick knockout of Phillips was impressive, but she trends more towards brawling with her foe. This also opens her up to take some damage as was the case in both of her TUF bouts.

In her first round win, Stoliarenko took a lot of punishment on the mat before turning the fight in her favour and snatching a submission. All 4 of her pro wins have come by sub- all by armbar. She is 4-0 in round 1, but a dismal 0-2-2 outside of the first frame not including her TUF tournament defeat.

If Stoliarenko can find herself in a position to lock up a sub, most likely an arm, she is more than capable. Unfortunately, she has a limited window in which to win this fights. Letson pushes a pretty torrid pace which could open her up to getting a limb trapped, but it will also create a lot of problems for an opponent with no success beyond round 1- my prediction is Leah Letson to defeat Julija Stoliarenko by TKO.

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155lbs- Roosevelt Roberts (6-0-0) vs Darrell Horcher (13-3-0)

Darrell “The Saint” Horcher will attempt to level his UFC record when he meets the debuting Roosevelt Roberts. Roberts maintained his perfect record with a successful bid on the Tuesday Night Contenders Series- he also owns a win under the Bellator banner. Horcher is 1-2 in the UFC with a split decision win over Devin Powell- he is coming off a decision loss to Scott Holtzman.

At 6’2″, Roberts will stand 4 inches taller than Horcher to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 7-years.

A threatening choke artist, Roberts will aggressively pursue the finish via submission. He will look for a choke standing, but once on the mat Roosevelt effectively utilizes his size to overwhelm his foe with transitions and ground and pound while looking for the finish.

Horcher has never been submitted, but he has had issues with his defensive grappling. He was dominated by the Champion on the floor, but more telling are the 7 takedowns he relinquished against Holtzman.

With a hefty left hand, “The Saint” will need to focus on keeping this fight vertical- both initiating exchanges and counter striking.

The key here will be distance management if Horcher can keep Roberts on the outside he can land strikes and potentially hurt him. That could be a dubious task considering Roosevelts’s reach and height advantage. Look for Roberts to close the gap, press Darrell into the cage and take him down. Once on the mat, the smothering nature of the UFC neophyte will take effect- my prediction is Roosevelt Roberts to defeat Darrell Horcher by submission.

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170lbs- Tim Means (27-10-1 1NC) vs Ricky Rainey (13-5-0)

Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means looks for his first win since mid-2017 when he takes on Bellator veteran Ricky “The Sniper” Rainey in the Welterweight division. Means has dropped back to back split decisions to Belal Muhammad and Sergio Moraes. Rainey went 5-2 in Bellator before dropping his UFC debut to Muslim Salikhov.

Means is an inch taller, but Rainey will have a 2″ reach advantage. Tim is the younger fighter by a year.

This fight should be predominantly contested on the feet. Rainey has recorded 7 wins by knockout while Means has finished 18 foes by knockout.

The key to beating Means is with wrestling and/or pressure. He landed more strikes then each of his last 2 opponents, but their willingness to constantly push forward weighed heavy with the judges.

Rainey didn’t show a lot of pressure and appeared almost unwilling to sit down on his punches against Salikhov. Means’ range striking is going to hold up well if Ricky tries to sit on the outside and if “The Sniper” opts to push forward Means will counter. Tim is the more technically sound and active striker against a fighter with a trio of knockout defeats- my prediction is Tim Means to defeat Ricky Rainey by TKO.

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135lbs- Raoni Barcelos (12-1-0) vs Chris Gutierrez (12-3-1)

The opening fight of the night will feature WSOF alumni Chris Gutierrez debuting opposed UFC sophomore Raoni Barcelos in the Bantamweight division. Barcelos made a successful and entertaining debut with his 3rd round stoppage of Kurt Holobaugh. Gutierrez has won a trio of fights, after snapping a 2-fight losing skid that included losses to Jerrod Sanders and Timur Valiev.

Gutierrez is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a 2-inch reach advantage. He is also the older man by 4-years.

Despite his impressive grappling chops, Barcelos showcased his heavy hands and willingness to trade big shots against Holobaugh. He has stopped 7 opponents by knockout.

Gutierrez has built the majority of his success around his striking, but he is coming off his first win by submission. Conversely, he has struggled with wrestling and/or grappling-based opponents.

The Brazilian appears to the be the more diversified fighter. He has power in his hands, a solid chin, and a dangerous grappling game. If Gutierrez starts to find success on the feet, look for Raoni to change levels and take him down. Even if Gutierrez can keep this fight standing, Barcelos will outwork over the duration of the fight- my prediction is Raoni Barcelos to defeat Chris Gutierrez by TKO.

135lbs- Suman Mokhtarian (8-0-0) vs Sodiq Yusuff (6-1-0)

On the main card, Bantamweight Suman Mokhtarian debuts across the cage to fellow promotional newcomer and Tuesday Night Contender’s graduate “Super” Sodiqu Yusuff. Mokhtarian has yet to taste defeat in his pro career, including a trio of wins over the 2017 campaign. Yusuff took a decision over Mike Davis on the Contenders series to pick up his second consecutive win since suffering the first loss of his pro career.

Mokhtarian has not fought in roughly 15-months. He is an inch taller that Yusuff and a year older.

The debuting Aussie has faced some questionable competition on the regional scene his last 3 opponents are a combined 5-6, with 2 fighters making their pro debuts. By comparison, Yusuff last trio of fights came against opponents with a combined record of 15-5.

“Super” Soqiqu works behind hard combinations and thudding low kicks. He has finished 4 opponent by knockout. Despite going the distance against Davis, he rocked him early- throwing a powerful right hand behind a spearing left jab.

While Yusuff has shown he can be an effective counter striker, he has a tendency to put his back on the cage and allow his opponent to move forward at will.

Mokhtarian builds his offence around taking his opponent down and sub hunting. He has a decent variety of holds on his resume, including a recent Twister finish. Suman has only gone beyond the first round on 2 occasions.

Mokhtarian’s level of competition is a major concern heading into this fight. Additionally, his lack of long fight experience also has the potential to impact his performance. Look for the speed of Yusuff to make it difficult for Mokhtarian to close the distance and drag him to the mat. Sodiq will have a sizeable edge in the striking department and if the fight advances beyond the first frame that gap will widen- my prediction is Sodiq Yusuff to defeat Suman Mokhtarian by TKO.

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205lbs- Jim Crute (8-0-0) vs Paul Craig (9-2-0)

Undefeated Aussie Light Heavyweight Jim “The Brute” Crute debuts against Scotland’s “Bearjew” Paul Craig. Craig started his UFC run with a win and after back to back knockout defeats, he scored a tremendous come-from-behind submission victory over the heavily favoured Magomed Ankalaev. After debuting in 2016, Brute battled his way to a 2018 Tuesday Night Contender’s fight where he earned an opening round knockout win and a subsequent call to the UFC.

Craig is an inch taller than Crute and will have a 2″ reach advantage, but he is also 9-years older than the promotional debutant.

The Scotsman does his best work on the floor, utilizing a submission heavy attack to secure 9 of his 10 career wins. Almost all of his wins have come by choke, including 4 triangle chokes.

“The Brute” has stamped out 5 opponents- all in the opening round. He has also gone to the scorecards on 3 occasions- twice over 5 rounds.

The durability of Craig has been a major concern. He has been stopped twice and if he can’t get his opponent to the floor he leaves himself open to taking damage.

Crute was aggressive in his Contender’s bout, ending his punching combos with slapping low kicks. He was also effectively punching the body in the lead up to the straight left that earned the standing knockout.

Both men will be looking for the finish, but Crute gets the advantage of starting in a position to utilize his strongest skill set. Craig doesn’t have the best wrestling, but he is still capable of scrambling his way to a submission opportunity. Jimmy’s movement will make it difficult for Craig to get his hands on him and the combination of volume and power will put the “Bearjew” at a significant deficit- my prediction is Jim Crute to defeat Paul Craig by TKO.

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170lbs- Yushin Okami (34-12-0) vs Alexey Kuchenko (19-0-0)

Former Middleweight title challenger, Yushin “Thunder” Okami looks to build on his first UFC win since 2013 when he meets Russia’s Alexey Kunchenko. Okami bested Dhiego Lima last April after dropping a short-notice Light Heavyweight bout with OSP by submission. Kuchenko got the call to the big show and promptly took a decision from former title challenger Thiago Alves to remain undefeated.

The long-time UFC Middleweight Okami will stand a full 6 inches taller than Kuchenko in addition to having a 5″ reach advantage. Alexey is the younger man by 3-years.

Kuchenko entered the promotion as the M-1 champion, defending his title 4-times and having finished 13 opponents by knockout- with only 5 coming in the first frame.

Returning to his grinding nature, Okami completed 6 of 13 takedown attempts against Lima. He is 7-0 in the UFC when completing 2 or more takedowns.

The M-1 Champ builds his offence around his Muay-Thai base. He can generate a lot of power in his techniques mainly because he is willing to really sit down on his strikes.

If Yushin can close the gap with regularity and/or keep tight to the Russian and ground him, he certainly could win a decision. That being said, Alexey’s dangerous and measured striking is going to make it difficult for Okami to time his entries without taking a lot of damage. Look for Okami’s size and lack of speed to play against him when he tries to level change- my prediction is Alexey Kuchenko to defeat Yushin Okami by TKO.

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125lbs- #8 Wilson Reis (22-9-0) vs #10 Ben Nguyen (17-7-0)

Battling for a potential future in Bantamweight division, 2 top 10 ranked Flyweights go toe to toe as Wilson Reis takes on Ben Nguyen. Reis, a former title challenger, has lost 3 consecutive fights- most recently dropping a decision to John Moraga. Nguyen was submitted by Jussier Formiga at UFC 221, snapping a 2 fight winning streak.

Ben is an inch taller, but they share the same 65″ reach. Nguyen is the younger man by 3-years.

Reis is a grappling specialist that has vastly improved his striking over the last several years. That being said, he has landed just 38 significant strikes over his last 7 rounds of action. He has 10 wins by sub.

Fighting out of Brisbane, Nguyen is 3-1 when the UFC goes down under. He has finished 10 opponents by knockout to go along with 5 submission wins.

The former Bellator competitor is coming off a tough decision he landed 8 takedowns, but found extremely limited success with his striking and lost the fight as a result. Prior to his last defeat, he was 6-1 when landing at least 1 takedown and 4-0 when landing more than 4.

Ben is aggressive, but he has been finished 5-times by knockout and twice by submission- all after the opening round. Both of his UFC losses have come on the mat.

Reis has struggled since the title fight loss and his lack of vertical offense has made him one-dimensional. Unless he is able to drag Nguyen to the floor and keep him there, he will have to show a return to his pre-title loss striking skills. Nguyen has good power and and Reis gets hurt almost every fight and has been knocked out 3-times. If Reis doesn’t let his hands go, Ben will be able to focus his defense on staying vertical and attacking- my prediction is Ben Nguyen to defeat Wilson Reis by TKO.

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170lbs- Keita Nakamura (33-8-2 1NC) vs Salim Touahri (10-2-0)

Japan’s 45-fight veteran Keita “K-Taro” Nakamura battles Poland’s Salim “Grizzly” Touahri in the Welterweight division. Nakamura is a combined 3-6 over 2 UFC stints, he has alternated wins and losses over his last 6 outings, most recently falling via decision to Tony Martin. Touahri road a 5-bout winning streak into the Octagon, but came up short over 15-minutes against Warlley Alves.

“K-Taro” is an inch taller with an inch reach advantage. He is also the older man by 5-years. Touahri hasn’t fought in just over a 13-months.

“Grizzly” has only fought successfully beyond the opening round on 3 occasions- ending 6 fights by knockout.

With a much larger sample size to draw upon, Nakamura has only been finished twice in his long career- the last coming in 2011.

When trading, Salim will wade forward with wide hooks. If he connects, he can do some damage, but his lack of activity when looking for openings can put him behind a more active adversary.

Even when he is unable to collect a submission, Keita still relies heavily on his ground game. He has collected 12 takedowns over his last 5 fights. He has won 15-times by rear-naked choke.

Nakamura has a very unassuming fighting style, but it is still quite effective. His use of shorter more direct punches should give him the edge against the wider techniques of Touahir. Salim will need an increase in offensive output from his norm, but if Nakamura gets his grappling involved Salim’s volume will take a further back step. Look for “K-Taro” to continue his success taking opponents down, eventually working to his adversary’s back- my prediction is Keita Nakamura to defeat Salim Touahri by submission.

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125lbs- Elias Garcia (6-1-0) vs Kai Kara-France (17-7-0 1NC)

Stepping in on short notice, Elias Garcia will try to rebound from his first career loss when he takes on New Zealand standout Kai Kara-France in the Flyweight division. Garcia was submitted by Mark De La Rosa in his debut- earlier in the year, he grabbed the attention of the boss on his Lookin’ for a Fight series. Kara-France is riding a 5-fight winning streak, including an impressive 4-0 run through 2017.

Both men are 5’5″, Garcia does have a 1″ reach advantage. Kai is the younger fighter by a year.

Training out of Rufusport, Garcia has finished 5 of his 6 wins. The early part of his pro run was spent facing some lower level opposition, not facing an above .500 fighter until his final pre-UFC contest.

Conversely, KK-F has faced a much better calibre of regional competition. His last 3 opponents carry a combined record of 29-12 in addition to a run into the second round of the TUF 24 Tournament of Champions.

Garcia showcased a patient approach in his debut, utilizing his kicks from the outside. Unfortunately, he failed to string any meaningful offence together before getting subbed.

The New Zealander will want to keep this bout standing and has made strides to improve his questionable TDD.

Garcia doesn’t have a lot of time to prep and Kara-France is going to be a handful. KK-F is the more impactful and active striker and Elias doesn’t have the wrestling to counter his forward pressure. Kara-France can’t get over-eager in pursuit of the finish, but look for him to back Elias up with a constant flow of power strikes- my prediction is Kai Kara-France to defeat Elias Garcia by TKO.

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155lbs- Mizuto Hirota (19-9-2) vs Christos Giagos (15-7-0)

The second of 2 Lightweight bouts on the card, Japan’s Mizuto Hirota meets “The Spartan” Christos Giagos. Hirota has dropped back to back bouts after having compiled a 5-fight undefeated streak. Giagos went 1-3 during his first stint in the promotion, then 4-1 on the regional scene before returning to lose by submission to Charles Oliveira.

Christos is the taller man by 3 inches and he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Hirota is 9 years older than his foe.

Hirota is fighting twice in a calendar year for the time since 2014. The 37-year old has just a single win in 6 UFC appearances.

Over his career the biggest undoing for Giagos has been his submission defence, fortunately, Hirota has never won a fight by sub in 30 pro contests.

For Hirota, his struggles have been the product of a lack of volume and urgency. Even when he outlands his foe, he has had issues convincing the judges that he won the fight. Despite building his offence around his striking, he has never stopped an opponent when fighting in North American-based promotion.

Mizuto is .500 fighter in decisions and facing a much younger and bigger opponent. Look for Giagos to be the more urgent striker while mixing in some well-timed takedowns and top control. Mizuto has to break multiple trends in order to secure a victory here- my prediction is Christos Giagos to defeat Mizuto Mirota by decision.

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155lbs- Alex Gorgees (6-0-0) vs Damir Ismagulov (16-2-0)

The opening fight of the night goes down in the Lightweight division as Australia’s Alex “The Hitman” Gorgees takes on fellow UFC debutant Damir Ismagulov of Russia. Gorgees made his debut in 2016, went 4-0 in 2017, and is coming off of a first-round knockout win this past September. Ismagulov is currently riding an 11-fight winning streak and has compiled an impressive 10-1 record under the M-1 Global banner.

A towering Lightweight, Gorgees is 6’2″- a full 4 inches taller than Damir. He is also the younger man by 4-years.

A confident striker, Gorgees will let loose with a solid straight right and hard kicks to the body and legs. He will also go a little unconventional with his attacks and mix in some spinning techniques.

The M1 Lightweight champion has finished 9 opponents by knockout- 5 in the first round. Over his last 8 fights, he has gone to the 3rd round 4-times in addition to a trio of 5 round encounters.

In an homage to the Diaz brothers, the Aussie implements the “Syndey slap” and is more than willing to smack talk his adversary throughout the fight.

A solid double leg and controlling top game allows Ismagulov to dictate where the fight takes place. He is also capable of holding his own on the feet with a measured striking attack that will explode into violent aggression.

This fight was originally scheduled between Joe Duffy and Ross Pearson; Ismagulov has had 3 weeks to prep while Gorgees is stepping in on a week’s notice.

Gorgees is coming in on extremely short notice and taking a massive step up in competition. His confidence and power are his keys to victory, but his willingness to open himself up to taking damage and inability to keep Ismagulov at distance is going to cost him. Ismagulov will put Gorgees on the mat and drag him into the deep waters before working towards the finish- my prediction is Damir Ismagulov to defeat Alex Gorgees by TKO.

170lbs- Song Kenan (13-4-0) vs Alex Morono (14-5-0 1NC)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, China’s Kenan Song faces Alex “The Great White” Morono in the Welterweight division. Song is 2-0 in the Octagon, owning a pair of finishes that helped him snap a 2-fight pre-UFC losing streak. Morono has just a single win in his last 4 outings, most recently dropping a decision to Jordan Mein.

Kenan is an inch taller but the American will have a 1″ reach advantage. They are the same age, but Morono started his pro career 4-years before Song.

It is interesting to note that both of Song’s UFC knockouts were immediately preceded by low blows, finishing his foe once the action restarted. Overall, he has stopped 13 of his 15 wins- 7 by knockout.

Morono has yet to showcase his pre-UFC finishing skills, failing to score a stoppage through 6 fights. He had finished 9 of his 10 wins on the regional scene.4

“The Great White” utilizes an unorthodox and vertical stance. Against Mein, he came out firing wild, looping, and inaccurate punches. Despite his reliance on decisions, he lacks a consistent volume attack and appears to have a vulnerability to takedowns.

Song is just 2-2 in decisions and appeared to be behind against Hector Aldana before getting the stoppage. He is the more technical striker when compared to Morono and has been spending time at Jackson-Wink to help round out his game.

The Chinese fighter needs to get off to a good start at home. Morono tends to give ground when he is too passive and get too wild when he opens up. Song’s more impactful strikes will be his key to victory. Morono has had issues winning decisions and it won’t get any easier in enemy territory. Kenan adds in a takedown or 2 to seal the deal- my prediction is Song Kenan to defeat Alex Morono by decision.

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125lbs- Wu Yanan (9-2-0) vs Lauren Mueller (6-0-0)

The final female clash on the card will feature a Women’s Strawweight tussle as China’s Wu “Mulan” Yanan meets American-born Lauren “Tiger Princess” Mueller. Mueller defeated Shana Dobson in her debut to remain undefeated. Yanan dropped a 3 round decision to Gina Mazany to snap a 2-fight losing streak.

Wu is taller than Mueller by 3 inches, but Lauren will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Wu is the younger fighter by 5-years and made her debut competing at Bantamweight.

Mueller relied on her jab a couple of timely takedowns to secure her win over Dobson. Despite getting her hand raised, her volume was far from dominant- getting outlanded 68-58.

Fighting last November, Yanan hasn’t seen action in nearly a year. She is known for her aggression and willingness to engage- ending 6 of her 7 finishes in the opening frame.

Prior to making their respective jumps to the big stage, both fought relatively low-level competition on the regional scene. Mueller fought 3 times under the Gladiator Banner against opponents with a combined 0-7 record. Wu’s final 3 pre-UFC adversaries were a combined 0-8.

Mueller is far from an overwhelming striker and tends to slow down as the fight advances. Wu appears more physically suited to compete at Flyweight which will help her to muscle Mueller around in the clinch, leading to the slowdown. The layoff should lead to a leap in overall skill for Yanan and fighting at home will help her further. The aggressive forward pressure of Wu carries will carry well with the judges- my prediction is Wu Yanan to defeat Lauren Mueller by decision.

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265lbs- Hu Yaozong (3-1-0) vs Rashad Coulter (8-4-0)

Looking for their first win inside the Octagon, “Bad Boy” Hu Yaozong and Rashad “Daywalker” Coulter collide in the Heavyweight division. Coulter is 0-3 in the UFC, falling via knockout on all 3 occasions- most recently he was finished by Chris de la Rocha. Yaozong made his debut opposed Cyril Asker- succumbing to a middle frame submission.

Hu is the taller man by 4 inches, but he will give up 4 inches of reach to the American. Coulter will weigh in roughly 5-pounds heavier.

“Bad Boy” made his debut on extremely short notice and enter the Octagon having faced a trio of opponents with a combined record of 1-6. He didn’t get to showcase much of his game, but did attempt a standing guillotine and landed a couple strikes to start the 2nd round.

Coulter has been apart of some entertaining scraps, but the mounting number of finishes is concerning. He comes from a striking background and was landing some big shots against de la Rocha before getting finished.

The big areas of concern for this pairing is Hu’s lack of experience and Coulter’s questionable cardio.

Yaozong has spent some time at Jackson-Wink which should go a long way for a young fighter’s development. Coulter has a limited window to get Hu out of there before he starts to slow down. Further, there is the concern of Yaozong putting Coulter on his back- Rashad seems lost and will get tired quick. Look for Hu to have made sizeable improvements since his last outing and exploit his opponent’s gaps in front of the home crowd- my prediction is Hu Yaozong to defeat Rashad Coulter by TKO.Paragraph breaker

115lbs- Weili Zhang (17-1-0) vs Jessica Aguilar (20-6-0)

Formerly top-ranked Strawweight Jessica “Jag” Aguilar looks to build on her first UFC win when she takes on Octagon sophomore- China’s Weili Zhang. Aguilar dropped back to back bouts to Glaudio Gadelha and Cortney Casey before rallying for a decision win over Jodie Esquibel. Zhang faced off with Danielle Taylor and earned a decision win to extend her streak to 17 straight wins.

Zhang is an inch taller than “Jag” and 7-years younger.

A big and powerful fighter, Zhang has finished 15 of her 17 opponents- 9 by knockout. She maintained constant pressure on Taylor, mixing together heavy punches a nice variety of kicks.

Aguilar rose to prominence on the strength of her wrestling, but after a 4-takedown effort in a losing performance- she focussed more on her striking in her most recent outing.

While Jessica is coming off of a 100+ striking performance, her 2 previous bouts she relinquished a combined 214 significant strikes to her foes.

Aguilar has a clear path to victory here and that is with her takedowns. If she can take Zhang down and ground her, she will nullify the striking skills of Weili. That being said, she has struggled to find much success with her wrestling and Zhang should have a strength and speed advantage. Look for Zhang to press forward, keep Jessica on her back foot, and land the better strikes- my prediction is Weili Zhang to defeat Jessica Aguilar by decision.

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135lbs- Pingyuan Liu (11-5-0) vs Martin Day (5-2-0)

One and done Tuesday Night Contenders competitor Martin “The Spartan” Day takes on UFC sophomore Pingyuan Liu in the Bantamweight division. Pingyuan got the best of Damian Stasiak last July to extend his current winning streak to 8 straight fights. Day lost a decision on Dana’s show, but rallied to win 3 consecutive regional fights and get the call to the big show.

Day will stand 4 inches taller than Liu, but he will give up an inch of reach. Pingyuan is the younger man by 5-years.

Day offers a plethora of kicking techniques drawing from a TaeKwondo background. He has only recorded a trio of wins by knockout and was unable to finish his exhausted Contenders Series opponent.

Liu isn’t nearly as flashy, but his striking appears to be a little more consistent. Against Stasiak, he found some success on the mat which could offer a nice foil to the striking attack of Day.

While Liu has finished 6 of his last 8 opponents in round 1, Day’s late rally could be an indicator of his path to victory.

This fight could come down to function over flash. If Day can stay at range and pot shot Liu, he could earn a decision or late stoppage. More likely, Liu works his way in, lands more volume with short combinations and hard low kicks to go along with a couple of key takedowns- my prediction is Pingyuan Liu to defeat Martin Day by decision.

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115lbs- Yan Xiaonan (8-1-0 1NC) vs Syuri Kondo (6-1-0)

The first of 3 women’s fights on the card will feature Japan’s Syuri Kondo taking on local product Yan “Fury” Xiaonan in the Strawweight division. Kondo won a narrow split decision in her debut, but was abruptly stopped via TKO by Poliana Botelho in her following fight. Xiaonan secured a debut triumph when she defeated Kailin Curran and then improved to 2-0 in the Octagon with a decision win over Viviane Pereira.

Yan is the taller fighter by an inch but it will be Kondo with a slight 3″ reach advantage.

Entering the UFC, Yan had finished 5 of her 7 wins- all in the opening round. She has yet to showcase her finishing skills in the UFC, going the distance in each bout. She did come out firing and hurt Curran in an early exchange.

Kondo offers a steady striking attack, but lacks the big finishing power with just a single career stoppage win. Against Jeon, she landed an impressive 135 significant strikes, but also absorbed 95.

With a record of early finishes, there is some concern regarding Yan’s performance later in fights. She slowed down against Curran and spent some time on her back.

Utilizing an active jab and front kick, Syuri does a decent job of maintaining distance and closing the gap on her terms.

Kondo’s forward pressure is the key to her success if it leads to a slowdown from Xiaonan. Conversely, the edge in speed, power, and striking diversity all appear to lie with Xiaonan. With Yan fighting at home, Kondo will need to put together a decisively dominant performance or score an unlikely stoppage. Syuri lacks the power to get Yan’s respect and will spend the fight eating the more impactful offence- my prediction is Yan Xiaonan to defeat Syuti Kondo by TKO.

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185lbs- Kevin Holland (13-3-0) vs John Phillips (21-7-0)

Making their respective sophomore appearances, Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland takes on “The Welsh Wrecking Machine”John Phillips in the Middleweight division. Holland loss a decision to Thiago Santos in his debut, snapping his 4-fight winning streak. Phillips had also won 4 in a row prior to his submission loss to Charles Bryd in his first UFC foray.

At 6’3″, Holland is 4 inches taller than Phillips to go along with a 6” reach advantage. The American is the younger man by 7-years.

Offering an impressive, but imperfect record- Phillips has finished his foe in all 21 of his career wins, 18 by knockout, and 17 in the opening round. Conversely, Phillips has been submitted on 4 occasions.

Holland has showcased a solid finishing rate as well, offering an almost even split of knockouts (6) to submissions (5). He throws a variety of unorthodox techniques, drawing on his Kung Fu background and a capable grappling attack.

The keys to this fight will be the reach and submission game of Holland. While Phillips has power, he is going to struggle to get into range to use it. Look for Holland to utilize his kicks to maintain distance and eventually put the Welsh fighter on the floor when he moves forward. Phillips is just too vulnerable on the mat- my prediction is Kevin Holland to defeat John Phillips by submission.

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135lbs- Louis Smolka (11-5-0) vs Sumudaerji Sumudaerji (8-1-0)

The earliest of the early morning fisticuffs will take place in the Bantamweight division as former Flyweight standout Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka welcomes the debuting Sumudaerji Sumudaerji to the UFC. Smolka returns to the promotion on the strength of a 3-fight winning streak- he went 5-5 during his first run. Sumudaerji won back to back bouts, rebounding the first loss of his career- he is 2-1 in 2018.

Both fighters have previously competed at Flyweight, but are moving to Bantamweight for this title. Smolka is 2 inches taller, but Sumudaerji will have a 4″ reach advantage. The UFC neophyte is the younger man by 5-years.

Sumudaerji debuts with 7 knockout wins accounting for all but one of his career wins- 5 in the first round. His last 3 opponents have a combined 9-2 record including the only man to defeat him accounting for 6 of those wins.

The UFC newcomer utilizes a sideways karate based stance similar to an early Lyoto Machida. He darts in and out of range landing single strikes and throwing kicks at distance.

Smolka has had his greatest success on the mat, working a constant flow of transitions and submission attempts. He has submitted 6 opponents and won multiple ground-based GNPs.

Arguably his most effective weapon is Louis ability to push the pace and overwhelm his foe, but in the process, he has put himself in some bad spots that have cost him in the end.

Sumudaerji needs to keep this fight at distance. He was submitted in his only loss and is relatively untested on the mat. Smolka can be hurt, but once he closes the gap it is his world. Smolka will drag Sumudaerji to the floor, go to work with his grappling game, and keep pushing until something sticks- my prediction is Louis Smolka to defeat Sumudaerji Sumudaerji by submission.

170lbs- Michel Prazeres (25-2-0) vs Bartosz Fabinski (14-2-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, former Lightweight Michel Prazeres of Brazil takes on Poland’s Bartosz Fabinski in the Welterweight division. Prazeres has won an impressive 7 consecutive fights, most recently upending Zak Cummings by split decision. Not to be outdone, Fabinski has also won 7 in a row- defeating Emil Meek in his last fight.

Fabinski debuted at Middleweight, while Prazeres struggled to make weight as a Lightweight. Fabinski is 6 inches taller than Prazeres and will have an 8″ reach advantage. Bartosz is the younger man by 5-years.

Despite coming from different combat backgrounds, Prazeres a BJJ Black belt and Fabinski a Judo practitioner, they both rely heavily on their takedown attacks. Fabinski has completed 22 takedowns over his 3 UFC fights while Prazeres has landed 27 on his current 7 fight winning streak.

Fabinski has never been taken down in the UFC. Prazeres gave up a trio of takedowns against Desmond Green and 4 in his 2015 loss to Kevin Lee.

Prazeres offers a decent power striking attack, with heavy low kicks and hard hooks. He found success negating the reach of Cummings, sliding into range to land his right hand before slipping back out.

With such a dominant and smothering takedown attack, Fabinski has shown little willingness to utilize his striking and will close the distance without hesitation.

It was evident that Prazeres was slowing down in later stages against Cummings. Fabinski’s ability to clinch and change levels for a shot is going to force Michel to expend a lot of energy, even if they don’t initially hit the mat. The Brazilian has the striking advantage, but he is going to have to move forward to land and that will give Bartosz ample opportunities to tie him up. Michel will start strong but will succumb to the constant flow of clinch and top pressure from his foe- my prediction is Bartosz Fabinski to defeat Michel Prazeresby decision.

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125lbs- #9 Alexandre Pantoja (19-3-0) vs #13 Ulka Sasaki (20-5-2)

Looking to hold onto their roster spots in a potentially dying division, Alexandre Pantoja battles Japan’s Ulka Sasaki. Pantoja is coming off a decision win over Brandon Moreno to rebound from his first UFC loss at the hands of Dustin Ortiz- he has won 12 of his last 13 fights. Sasaki has alternated wins and losses over his last 6 fights- most recently submitting Jenel Lausa.

Sasaki stands 5 inches taller than Pantoja to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Pantoja is the younger man by a year.

Pantoja made a solid run in the Ultimate Fighter Flyweight tournament, ranked #1 he finally bowed out in the semi-finals. Despite offering a capable submission game, he has relied heavily on his opponents to take the fight to the mat before scrambling to a superior position.

Sasaki will be more than accepting of a ground battle. He has submitted 12 opponents- 10 by rear naked choke. He has also been submitted twice- one by RNC and the other by neck crack.

He has landed 11 takedowns in his last 3 UFC wins compared to just 2 over his 2 losses.

On the feet, Pantoja should have the edge. He offers a solid kicking attack to deal with the length of Sasaki and damaging clinch attack once he closes the gap.

Sasaki has the opportunistic submission skills to grab a finish so Pantoja will need to be mindful if the fight hits that mat. That being said, Pantoja is the better wrestler and should find success dictating when and how the fight hits the floor. The striking of the Brazilian will gain him a sizeable edge and could force Ulka into some tough spots- my prediciton is Alexandre Pantoja to defeat Ulka Sasaki by submission.

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145lbs- Humberto Bandenay (14-5-0 1NC) vs Austin Arnett (15-5-0)

In search of his first UFC win”The Golden Boy” Austin Arnett takes on Peru’s Humberto Bandenay in the Featherweight division. Arnett has dropped 3 consecutive fights, losing his Contenders bout and then dropping back to back fights to Cory Sandhagen and Hakeem Dawodu. Bandenay is 1-1 in the UFC, debuting with a flash upset of Martin Bravo before getting stopped in his sophomore appearance.

Arnett is an inch taller, Bandenay is the younger man by 4 years.

Despite making the walk to the Octagon twice, Bandenay has just 65-seconds of cage time. He was knocked out by Gabriel Benitez in just 39-seconds and he has been finished by submission in each of his other 4 defeats.

Arnett’s cage time has been far greater, falling just short 40-minutes of cage time over his last 3 fights. “Golden Boy” is 5-4 in fights that go beyond the opening frame.

The American has struggled considerably with more dynamic striking-based opponents. He has been outlanded 155-55 in his 2 defeats.

Bandenay hasn’t shown much at this level, beyond his quick stoppage and that makes it hard to get a good read on him. Arnett has had more time, but hasn’t done much beyond absorb damage. Arnett doesn’t have a great record in decisions which is indicative of his inability to mount a consistent offensive attack. Look Bandenay to be the more dynamic striker and win the majority of the exchanges based on volume and technique- my prediction is Humberto Bandenay to defeat Austin Arnett by decision.

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170lbs- Laureano Staropoli (7-1-0) vs Hector Aldana (4-1-0)

An unsuccessful UFC debut cost Hector Aldana his first career loss that he will try to rebound from when he meets the debuting Argentinian Laureano Staropoli in the Welterweight division. Aldana was stopped by Kenan Song in the middle round of his June debut. Staropoli is riding a 5-fight winning streak, finishing all of his opponents since his 2013 debut.

Staropoli is an inch taller and 5-years younger than Aldana. Staropoli has not fought in 16-months.

A TUF Latin American 2 veteran, Aldana exited in the semi-finals via sub. He secured a pair of trip takedowns in his debut, but was unable to gain much control on the floor.

Aldana is power striker, offering hard low kicks and good pop in his hands. He does load up on his strikes and can tip off his techniques with his early movements.

While he has finished all of his pro wins, Staropoli has faced some lower level competition- his last 3 opponents have a combined record of 8-10.

Coming from a kickboxing background, Staropoli likes to stand and trade. He spent the majority of his most recent opening round win under attack before landing the fight-ending blow.

Staropoli is fighting at home, but he is also debuting off of a prolonged layoff. His lack of high-end talented is also concerning. Aldana’s UFC debut came on the heels of a near 5-year gap between pro bouts and he should be in a better spot here. Look for Aldana to utilize his takedowns against a striker that has minimal experience beyond round 1. Aldana’s aggression on the feet could also be an issue for Staropoli- my prediction is Hector Aldana to defeat Laureano Staropoli by TKO.

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155lbs- Devin Powell (9-3-0) vs Jesus Pinedo (15-4-1)

In the Lightweight division, Devin Powell meets the debuting Jesus Pinedo. Powell is coming off his first UFC win, stopping Alvaro Herrera by TKO- he had lost the first 2 fights of his UFC run. Pinedo has won 6 consecutive bouts and 11 of his last 12.

Powell is the taller man by 2 inches, but Pinedo is the younger man by 8-years.

On the strength of 11 of his 15 wins coming by stoppage, Pinedo gets the call to the UFC. He has 7 wins by knockout. His last 3 opponents carry a combined record of 17-14.

The American is scrappy but failed to put enough offence together to earn a decision in either of his first 2 UFC fights. Powell did pick up his third knockout victory, stopping his last foe with body kicks.

Prior to getting the finish, Powell was on the defensive during the majority of the striking exchanges.

Pinedo offers a pretty slick striking attack with smooth movement and hint of flash. He should have a noticeable speed advantage over Powell.

Powell is scrappy, but his willingness to absorb damage is going to cost him here. Pinedo is coming in on short notice, but he appears to be the better all-around athlete. He was rocked in his last bout and Powell is fairly durable, but unless Jesus fades- this is his fight to win- my prediction is Jesus Pinedo to defeat Devin Powell by TKO.

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145lbs- Nad Narimani (11-2-0) vs Anderson dos Santos (19-6-0)

In the opening fight of the night, UFC sophomore Nad Narimani meets the debuting Anderson do Santos in the Featherweight division. Narimani bested Khalid Taha via decision- he has won 4 in a row. dos Santos has won back to back fights and 3 of his last 4- he is 2-1 in 2018.

Narimani is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Nad is also the younger man by 2-years. dos Santos has been competing at Bantamweight in recent action

Staying true to his expected gameplan, Narimani landed 6 of 11 takedowns in his debut. He has been a slow starter at times, but he found success early in his last fight; landing takedowns and chipping away with strikes from the top.

On the regional scene, his last 2 wins have come over opponents with a combined 13-13 record. He has finished 11 opponents by submission.

dos Santos’s attack is also predicated on his takedowns, offering some decent ground and pound and above average submission attack. He has also been finished in 5 of his 6 losses.

The Brazilian is stepping in as the second opponent change for Narimani- he will have just a week to prep. Coming up from Bantamweight will help him to deal with the cut, but it will put him at a size disadvantage. If dos Santos is unable to get Narimani on the mat, Nad should get the better of the striking exchanges. Look for Narimani to wear dos Santos, scoring a few key takedowns as the fight advances- my prediction is Nad Narimani to defeat Anderson dos Santos by submission.

115lbs- Ashley Yoder (5-4-0) vs Amanda Cooper (4-4-0)

In the headlining act of the undercard, TUF 23 graduates Ashley “Spider Monkey” Yoder and Amanda “ABC” Cooper go head to head in the Women’s Strawweight division. Cooper is coming off a submission loss to Mackenzie Dern and is just 2-3 in the UFC. Yoder has yet to earn a UFC nod, including a split decision loss to Dern in her most recent outing.

Yoder is 4 inches taller than Cooper and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Cooper is the younger fighter by 4-years.

The majority of Cooper’s fight, win or lose, are decided on the mat. She stopped Angela Magana from back mount and secured a pair of takedowns in her earlier UFC triumph. Conversely, she has been submitted in all 4 of her pro losses.

Yoder has yet to showcase her submission skills in the Octagon, but she has won 4 of her 5 wins by tap out- all bar armbar. She completed 4 takedowns over her first 2 UFC outings before utilizing her defence to stop all but 1 of Dern’s 6 TDAs.

On the Ultimate Fighter, Cooper advanced to the finals while Yoder was bounced in the quarter-finals.

While Cooper seems insistent on taking her opponent to the mat, her best path to victory against Yoder is most likely her striking. That being said, Yoder can hold her own on the feet and still should find success taking Cooper down and overwhelming her- my prediction is Ashley Yoder to defeat Amanda Cooper by decision.

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145lbs- Chas Skelly (17-2-0) vs Bobby Moffett (12-3-0)

Chas “The Scrapper” Skelly returns to action when he welcomes “The Wolfman” Bobby Moffett to the UFC Featherweight division. Skelly is coming off a knockout loss to Jason Knight, he had won back to back bouts prior to the defeat- Chas is 6-3 inside the Octagon. Moffett was successful on the Contenders Series to extend his winning streak to 3 in a row- this will be his 5th fight in 2018.

Skelly has not fought in nearly 18 months. He is the taller man by an inch, but he will give up 2 inches of reach. Moffett is 5-years younger.

A takedown centric offence has led to 8 career wins by submission for Moffett. In his last fight, he scored an early takedown and quickly cut through his opponent’ s guard. The majority of his wins have come by choke.

Certainly no slouch on the mat, Skelly offers a combination of strong wrestling and a capable submission arsenal. During his UFC tenure, he has submitted 4 opponents while completing 10 takedowns.

Skelly packs some pop in his hands, but he has also been hurt and/or finished on a couple of occasions. “The Wolfman” tends to use his striking to set up his takedown game- attacking and countering his opponent’s offence with a level change.

Over his 3 UFC defeats, Skelly has been taken down 11 times.

With similar styles, this bout might come down to a few key x-factors. Skelly’s lack of activity could and create ring rust and compromise his already questionable cardio. Conversely, Moffett has shown he can fight deep in a contest and he has fought 5 times since Skelly’s last bout. Chas has had issues with fighters that look to wrestle him and if he can’t get off to a good start or fades Moffett will pull away- my prediction is Chas Skelly to defeat Bobby Moffett by decision.

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155lbs- Beneil Dariush (14-4-1) vs Thiago Moises (10-2-0)

In a bout that got the push to the main card, former top 10 ranked Lightweight Beneil Dariush meets the short notice debutant Thiago Moises. Dariush enters this bout winless in 3 with a pair of losses to Edson Barboza and Alexander Hernandez. Moises has picked up back to back wins, including a Contenders bout- he has won 6 of his last 7.

Moises is stepping in on roughly 3 weeks notice, replacing Chris Gruetzemacher. Dariush is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Moises is the younger man by 6-years.

Dariush is a very capable grappler with a fast-improving striking attack. Unfortunately, his chin appears to be his greatest point of vulnerability. He has been brutally knocked out in each of his last 2 defeats and 3-times overall.

The former RFA Lightweight champion, Moises scored a head kick finish that capped off a rather uneventful Contenders bout. He has a solid striking attack and does good work on the mat as well.

This will be Dariush’s second consecutive shot notice and debuting opponent.

Moises has skills, but he is facing an uphill battle against a talented fighter like Dariush. Thiago struggled with the pressure of his opponent in his 2017 title fight defeat and that is what Dariush does well. Look for Beneil to meld together a consistent striking attack with well-timed takedowns. Dariush needs to avoid that one big shot that has been turning his lights out, but my prediction is Beneil Dariush to defeat Thiago Moises by decision.

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155lbs- Davi Ramos (8-2-0) vs John Gunther (7-1-0)

Elite BJJ talent Davi “The Tasmanian Devil” Ramos takes on TUF 27 graduate John “The Machine” Gunther in the Lightweight division. Ramos has won back to back fights, most recently submitting Nick Heins by rear-naked choke. Gunther made his first UFC appearance in on the TUF 27 Finale, besting Allan Zuniga by decision.

The American is the taller man by 3 inches to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Ramos is 1 year younger.

Gunther is an aggressive brawler, but his willingness to push forward resulted in a first-round submission loss in the TUF quarter-finals. He returned to the tournament as an injury replacement and lost a decision in the semis.

A BJJ Black belt, Ramos has secured 6 of his 8 wins by submission- the last 3 by RNC. He is willing to trade on the feet, but he is lethal on the mat.

Ramos required just a single takedown to submit Hein but completed 5 before submitting his foe in his other UFC win. Gunther secured 8 takedowns in his debut win.

Gunther needs to make this fight ugly. Push Ramos, drag him into a slugfest and wear him out. Ramos BJJ game is just too strong and once he hits the floor, he will have a sizeable gap in skill over “The Machine”. Look for Davi to entertain a few early striking exchanges before eventually changing levels to counter the forward pressure of Gunther- my prediction is Davi Ramos to defeat John Gunther by submission.

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155lbs- Devonte Smith (8-1-0) vs Julian Erosa (22-6-0)

The returning Julian Erosa looks to make good on his second UFC opportunity when he takes on the debuting Devonte “King Kage” Smith in the Lightweight division. Erosa went 1-1 in the big show after his TUF run, he has since compiled an impressive 7-2 mark with multiple championship fights. Smith is coming off of a “Tuesday Night Contenders” win and also holds a recent victory over Justin Edward while his only career loss came against fellow undercarder John Gunther.

At 6’1″, Erosa will stand 4 inches taller than Smith, but Devonte will have an unexpected 1″ reach advantage. Smith is the younger man by 4-years.

Showcasing the type of power that has led him to 7 knockout wins, Smith stopped his favoured Contenders with brutal elbows while in defence of a TDA. He has 5 first round finishes, but he has also fought into the 3rd frame or beyond on 3occasions.

Sporting his own finish-heavy record, the more experienced Erosa has stopped 19 opponents- 10 by knockout. Julian brawled his way to victory, scoring a head kick knockdown.

Despite the win, Erosa was dropped in the opening round. His durability has been an issue- he has been knocked out twice and was stopped by Artem Lobov on the show. In Smith’s only career loss, he started strong but couldn’t defend his opponent’s takedowns.

Erosa has put together a nice post-UFC run, but all indications are that his shortcomings are still present. Smith should have a sizeable speed advantage and he hits extremely hard. Julian doesn’t use his reach well and leaves his chin exposed. Look for Smith to work behind his jab before landing his power strikes- my prediction is Devonte Smith to defeat Julian Erosa by knockout.

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125lbs- Joseph Morales (9-1-0) vs Eric Shelton (11-5-0)

With the curtain falling on the Flyweight division, Joseph “Bopo” Morales and “Showtime” Eric Shelton will do their best to maintain their hold on a roster spot. Team Alpha Males’ Morales is coming off a loss to Deiveson Figueiredo by TKO, he is 1-1 in the promotion. Shelton has a just a single win in the UFC, currently carrying a 1-3 record that includes a pair of split decision losses.

Both men are 5’6″, but Morales will have a 1″ reach advantage. He is the younger fighter by 3-years.

A gifted Athlete, Shelton has struggled to convert his talent into UFC wins. Over his 3 UFC defeats, “Showtime” has struggled to stay off his back. He has given up 11 takedowns and despite edging Alexandre Pantoja in the wrestling, he routinely lost position.

Submitting his foe in 5 of his 9 career wins, Morales does his best work on the floor. That being said, he has spent some time on his back in both of his UFC outings.

Despite his record, Shelton has landed more strikes than his opponent in all but 1 of his UFC bouts.

Benjamin is the more well rounded and athletic fighter, but Morales has a path to victory here. Morales needs to utilize his grappling game and put “Showtime” on his back with regularity. Unfortunately, Perez doesn’t offer the type of wrestling that has troubled Eric and Shelton should find success as the busier striker- my prediction is Eric Shelton to defeat Joseph Morales by Decision.

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135lbs- Mark De La Rosa (10-1-0) vs Joby Sanchez (11-3-0)

The first of 2 cursed Flyweight fights on the card, Mark “Bumblebee” De La Rosa takes on Joby Sanchez. Sanchez fell to 1-3 over his combined UFC tenures after losing via submission to Roberto Sanchez. De La Rosa surprised many with a 2nd round submission win over Elias Garcia, rebounding from the first loss of his pro career.

Both men are 5’6″, but Sanchez will have a 3″ reach advantage. De La Rosa is the younger man by 3-years. Sanchez took this fight with roughly a week to prep.

A pension for being a slow starter, Sanchez never got out of the gates in his last out- submitting in just 110-seconds. Joby has been finished in 2 of his 3 UFC defeats.

De La Rosa showcased his strong grappling attack, earning his 6th career win by submission.

While De La Rosa can hold his own on the feet, he will most likely focus his attack on the mat. Sanchez has given up a combined 13 takedowns over his 3 UFC defeats.

Sanchez is better than his Octagon record suggests, but he is still an incredibly flawed fighter. To go along with being a bit of a slow starter and some questionable TDD, he has also been hurt on the feet on multiple occasions. De La Rosa is good on the mat and has the striking skills to both attack and position himself to put Joby on the floor- my prediction is Mark De La Rosa to defeat Joby Sanchez by submission.

145lbs- Jason Knight (20-5-0) vs Jordan Rinaldi (13-6-0)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, Jason “The Kid” Knight takes on Jordan “All Day” Rinaldi in the Featherweight division. Rinaldi is coming off a loss to Gregor Gillespie- he is 1-2 in the UFC. Knight has dropped a trio of consecutive bouts- falling via split decision Makwan Amirkhani.

Both men are 5’10”, but Rinaldi will have a 1″ reach advantage. He is the older man by 5-years. Rinaldi is cutting down to Featherweight for the first time in 3-years.

Knight picked up considerable momentum prior to running into Ricardo Lamas and getting brutally knocked out. At his best, Knight is an aggressive striker with unexpected power and a dangerous grappling attack.

A former wrestler and BJJ Brown belt, Rinaldi has submitted 8 opponents. His only UFC win came via Von Flue choke.

While Knight is very aggressive off of his back, he appears to have reverted to pulling guard in a number of situation, even when it is not the most beneficial move.

Knights takes a lot of damage while pushing forward and that approach is no longer working for him. Additionally, his willingness to go to his back against a capable wrestler like Rinaldi is going to cost him over the duration of the fight. Rinaldi needs to be mindful trading on the feet, but look for him to capitalize on some poor decision by Knight and grab some key top position time- my prediction is Jordan Rinaldi to defeat Jason Knight by decision.

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125lbs- #4 Sijara Eubanks (4-2-0) vs #7 Roxanne Modafferi (22-15-0)

With a potential shot at the title on the line in a rematch from the TUF 26 tournament, Sijara Eubanks takes on “The Happy Warrior” Roxanne Modafferi in the Woman’s Flyweight division. Eubanks is coming off her debut victory over Lauren Murphy. Modafferi replaced Eubanks but lost to former champion Nico Montano in the TUF finals- she rebounded with an impressive stoppage win over Barb Honchak.

At 5’7″, Modafferi is 3 inches taller than Eubanks to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Roxy is 3-years older than Sijara.

After defeating Modafferi in the semi-finals, Eubanks was pulled from her TUF tournament title fight due to illness. She was briefly linked with a title shot at UFC 230 but the bout was quickly scrapped.

In their first meeting, both girls traded on the feet. Eubanks was able to gain an edge in the grappling exchanges and while Roxanne attacked off her back, she spent the majority of the time on the defensive.

Eubanks focused more on her striking against Murphy, spending the majority of the fight on her feet.

The defeat of Honchak was the 5th time that Modaferri faced opponent more than once her in career- she is 4-1 in rematches.

Modaferri has an avenue to victory, but it limited unless Eubanks blows the weight-cut. If Sijara fades, Roxy could outwork her on the feet and find some top control time. If Eubanks doesn’t slow down, look for her to land the more impactful strikes on the feet coupled with some sizeable top control time- my prediction is Sijara Eubanks to defeat Roxanne Modafferri by decision.

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145lbs- Julio Arce (15-2-0) vs Sheymon Moraes (10-1-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Julio Arce goes for UFC win #3 when he takes on WSOF veteran Sheymon Moraes. Arce is coming off an impressive submission victory over Daniel Teymur to extend his 7-fight winning streak- his only 2 defeats were back to back fights against Brian Kelleher. Moraes earned his first UFC victory last time out- his only 2 defeats came against top contenders Zabit Magomedsharipov and Marlon Moraes.

Moraes will stand an inch taller than Arce and he will hold a 2″ reach advantage. Moraes is the younger fighter by a year.

Arce comes from a kickboxing background and after gliding through the first 2+ rounds on the feet in the Teymur win.

Most likely willing to oblige a striking battle, Moraes has recorded 5 wins by knockout. He showcased a solid striking attack in his last outing- landing hard punches augmented by thudding body and low kicks.

An area of concern for Moraes has been is closing cardio. He has been known to slow down in bouts and against Sales his output tapered off in the final frame.

Arce has the edge as a grappler, but he will be hardpressed to take Moraes down. Sheymon is a little longer and appears to have the edge in power. The key is for Arce to push Moraes and outwork him. Moraes willingness to sit back and pot shot his foe will cost him against a more active fighter- my prediction is Julio Arce to defeat Sheymon Moraes by decision.

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170lbs- Lyman Good (19-4-0 1NC) vs Ben Saunders (19-4-0 1NC)

Making a quick return to action, Ben “Killa B” Saunders takes on New York-native Lyman “Cyborg” Good in the Welterweight division. Saunders fought just 6-weeks ago losing by submission to Sergio Moraes- he 5-4 on his current UFC tenure. Good picked up a knockout win in his promotional debut, but dropped a split decision against Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos in his sophomore appearance.

Saunders is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is replacing Sultan Aliev in 2 weeks notice. Lyman is the younger man by 2-years, but he has been out of action for just over 15-months.

“Cyborg” has had difficulty staying active in recent years. After debuting in 2015, he sat out 2 years and has fought just once in the last 39-months.

Coming off his first submission loss, Saunders has been finished 7-times. Statistically, he absorbs more damage than he lands and averages under 0.25 takedowns per fight.

Both men competed under the Bellator banner; Saunders went 7-3 while Good captured the promotions first ever Welterweight title while compiling an 8-3 record.

There are multiple x-factors that could impact this bout. Saunders is fighting for the 4th time this year and doing so on a very quick turn around with limited time to prep. Conversely, Good could suffer from some ring rust but he will be competing at home. Good hits harder, has the option to wrestle, and is the more durable fighter. Saunders is simply over-matched unless he can catch a flash finish- my prediction is Lyman Good to defeat Ben Saunders by TKO.

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155lbs- Matt Frevola (6-0-0) vs Lando Vannata (9-3-1)

Winless in 3 and on the verge of washing out of the UFC, “Groovy” Lando Vannata takes on promotional sophomore Matt “The Steamrolla” Frevola in the Lightweight division. Frevola’s debut lasted just 60-seconds, suffering a knockout loss to Marco Polo Reyes. Vannata dropped a decision to Drakkar Klose and is winless in his last 3 with a draw against Bobby Green and loss to David Teymur.

Both men stand 5’9″ and share a 71″ reach. Lando is 2 years younger than Frevola.

“The Steamrolla” showed himself to be an all-action fighter in his Tuesday Contenders’ bout, dropping his opponent early and walking forward with reckless abandon. He took a similar approach against Reyes and paid for it.

Vanata should look to capitalize on Frevola’s willingness to absorb punishment and trade with limited focus on his defense. It ultimately cost Matt in his abrupt debut.

The knock on Vannata has been his inability to distance himself in close fights. He demonstrated improved aggression against Bobby Green, but allowed the action to slip away from him late.

Frevola doesn’t offer the type of technical striking that has previously troubled Vannata. Lando has solid TDD and his use of head movement to slip strikes and throw counters will work well against Frevola’s brawling nature. Unless Lando cracks under the pressure he should find success routinely getting the better of the exchanges- my prediction is Lando Vannata to defeat Matt Frevola by TKO.

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145lbs- Shane Burgos (10-1-0) vs Kurt Holobaugh (17-5-0 1NC)

In search of a return to the win column, Shane “Hurricane” Burgos meets 1-time Strikeforce competitor Kurt Holobaugh in the Featherweight division. Burgos began his UFC run 3-0 before falling to Calvin Kattar via TKO at UFC 220. Holobaugh lost his first fight in the UFC before going on an 8-2 run only to lose his return engagement in the Octagon.

Both men stand 5’11”, but Burgos will have a 2-inch reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 5-years.

A definite fight of the fight candidate, this contest could come down to who’s chin holds up longer as both men are coming off striking-based knockout defeats. The first of either fighters’ career.

Despite carrying records that include multiple submission wins; Holobaugh with 8 and Burgos with 4, neither man has shown much interest in going to Octagon mat.

Burgos will initiate with combinations, but he is also a capable counter striker which will need to be on point against the forward pressure of Holobaugh. Kurt does tend to slow down a bit and Burgos’ proclivity for hard body punches could add to that.

Holobaugh is a bruiser and landed some bombs in his last fight but couldn’t finish his foe. If Burgos can either slip or absorb the damage coming his way, he should have the edge in overall technical skills. Kurt seems just too willing to get hit which won’t sit well with the judges and could lead to a late stoppage. Burgos comes out firing after his first career loss and puts on a show at home- my prediction is Shane Burgos to defeat Kurt Holobaugh by TKO.

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135lbs- Brian Kelleher (19-9-0) vs Montel Jackson (6-1-0)

A 3-month turn around following his first career loss has “Quik” Montel Jackson taking on formerly ranked Brian “Boom” Kelleher in the Bantamweight division. Kelleher was knocked out by John Lineker to see his UFC record fall to 3-2. Jackson dropped an entertaining decision to Ricky Simon to bring an end to his undefeated pro record.

Jackson is 4 inches taller and will have a massive 9″reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by 6-years.

Finishing 5 opponents by knockout, Jackson has some decent pop in his hands. He throws with power, but his lack of hand speed and volume were an issue in his last fight.

Kelleher has develop a strong pressure game that can be both overwhelming along with opening him up to taking damage. Against Barao, he outworked and exhausted him but Lineker capitalized on his willingness to get hit and finished him.

Jackson’s wrestling is also a concern as he was taken down on multiple occasions in his debut and Kelleher has shown he can wrestling and threaten with submissions.

If Jackson’s can utilize his reach and keep Kelleher on the outside it is his fight to win. Equally as important, “Quik” must make “Boom” pay on every attempt to close the distance. Kelleher is simply to unpredictable, constantly engaging and keeping the threat of his wrestling present. Jackson will have some success, but he won’t do enough to overcome the New York native- my prediction is Brian Kelleher to defeat Montel Jackson by decision.

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265lbs- Adam Wieczorek (10-1-0) vs Marcos Rogerio De Lima (15-6-1)

In the opening fight of the night, Adam “Siwy” Wieczorek takes on Brazilian Marcos Rogerio De Lima. De Lima is coming off a submission loss to OSP- he is 4-3 in the UFC. Wieczorek has yet to taste defeat in the Octagon, besting Anthony Hamilton by decision and submitting Arjan Bhullar.

De Lima has fought mainly at Light Heavyweight, but he competed on TUF Brazil and made his UFC debut at Heavyweight. Wieczorek is the taller man by 4 inches and will have a 6″ reach advantage. “Siwy” is the younger fighter by 7-years and should weigh-in 15-25 pounds heavier than his De Lima. He is taking the fight on less than 2 weeks notice.

The Brazilian is an absolute berzerker, finishing 14 of his 15 wins- 11 in the opening round. Conversely, Marcos is 3-3-1 beyond frame 1- winless in his last 4. The 19-month layoff could further hamper his performance.

Wieczorek has 5 first round finishes of his own, but he has seen an increase in total cage time in recent fights. He may look to extend De Lima beyond round 1 to try and capitalize on his endurance shortcomings.

De Lima is dangerous, but he tends to come up short on his punches against longer opponents. If he can’t land, he will get wild and over-aggressive, providing Wieczorek with the opportunity to change levels for a takedown. De Lima’s track record in longer fights is also concerning against an opponent that has never been finished. Wieczorek survives the early onslaught, uses his size to slowdown De Lima and eventually gets the fight to the floor- my prediction is Adam Wieczorek to defeat Marcos Rogerio De Lima by submission.

170lbs- Nordine Taleb (14-5-0) vs Sean Strickland (19-3-1)

In the headlining fight of the undercard will feature France born and Canadian trained Nordine “The Machine” Taleb taking Sean “Tarzan” Strickland in the Welterweight division. Taleb is coming off a shocking upset loss to Claudio Silva- he is 6-3 in the UFC. Strickland has won 4 of his last 6 fights, but he is coming off a knockout loss to Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos.

Both men are 6’1″, but Strickland will have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Strickland is the younger fighter by 10-years.

Strickland is a talented but frustrating fighter. He appears to lack urgency in his offence, but yet still averages over 4 significant strikes per minute. He does his best work behind a snappy jab, but fails to follow up with power strikes on most occasions.

Picking up a couple of recent stoppages, Taleb has showcased his improving striking power. Despite that success, he has leaned heavily on his wrestling. Nordine had completed at least 1 takedowns in all but 2 of his UFC wins.

This fight has the potential to be very close. Both men can operate on the mat and both offer simplistic but effective striking attacks. Statistically, Strickland’s volume is superior and his reliance on a jab and 2″ reach advantage should allow him to be the more successful striker. The American’s TDD is better and he could opt to shoot on Taleb for some crucial top time- my prediction is Sean Strickland to defeat Nordine Taleb by decision.

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155lbs- Thibault Gouti (12-4-0) vs Nasrat Haqparast (9-2-0)

In the Lightweight division, Thibault “GT” Gouti takes on Nasrat Haqparast of Afghanistan. Gouti is a dismal 1-4 in the UFC, stopping Andrew Holbrook to keep his spot in the promotion before dropping a decision to Sage Northcutt in his last fight. Haqparast fell via decision to Marcin Held in his debut, but scored a decision win over Marc Diakiese in his sophomore outing.

Both men are 5’10” and share a 72″ reach. Haqparast is the younger fight by 8-years.

Finishing 8 opponents by knockout, 6 in the opening round, Haqparast is a dangerous striker. He deploys the majority of his offence with a hard left hand. Against Diakiese, he demonstrated sound defence slipping out of range and then returning forward to force his foe backward.

Gouti comes from a boxing background, but he has won more fights by submission (6) compared to wins by knockout (4). He has also been finished on multiple occasion; once TKO and twice by submission.

In his debut, Haqparast gave up a trio of takedowns so Gouti may look to attack Nasrat’s defensive wrestling. “GT” took Northcutt down 3 times but didn’t do enough with the position to earn a decision.

The manner in which Haqparast avoided the majority of Diakese’s offense before deploying his own was impressive. The combinatin of his power and pressure based attack will replicate the issues that Gouti has had in previous fights. Gouti may score early with his takedowns, but ultimately this fight will be decided on the feet- my prediction is Narat Haqparast to defeat Thibaoult Gouti by TKO.

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145lbs- Calvin Kattar (18-3-0) vs Chris Fishgold (17-1-1)

After an impressive 2-0 star to his UFC tenure, Calvin Kattar is looking to rebound from defeat when he takes on the debuting Chris Fishgold in the Featherweight division. Kattar was unable to take that next step, dropping a decision to Renato Moicano in his last fight. Fishgold enters the Octagon with 7 consecutive wins, including a 5-fight winning streak under the Cage Warriors banner.

Kattar is the taller man by 3 inches, but it is the Brit that is 4-years younger. Fishgold has previously competed at 155 pounds.

Fishgold carries a submission heavy record, subbing 12 opponents and finishing 14 overall. The majority of his tap outs (11) have come by either guillotine or rear-naked choke. He has 11 first round finishes.

Kattar’s finish of Shane Burgos was impressive. He offers a solid striking attack, working behind a crisp jab. In his last fight, Calvin struggled to land with consistency and was badly out struck.

While Fishgold is capable of competing on the feet, this contest will ultimately be decided by his wrestling. An aggressive pursuant of the single leg takedown, if the Brit can’t put Kattar on the floor it will badly compromise his overall offense.

Debuting and cutting down a division can be a difficult task by itself. There is also the question of how well Fishgold’s wrestling will translate outside of the European regional scene. Kattar offers the superior striking technique and his countering ability will serve as a nice foil for the aggressive power punching nature of his foe. Look for Kattar to evade the an early flow of TDAs before striking his way to a victory- my prediction is Calvin Kattar to defeat Chris Fishgold by decision.

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135lbs- Sarah Moras (5-4-0) vs Talita Bernardo (5-2-0)

In the Women’s Bantamweight division, Sarah “Cheesecake” Moras takes on Talita Bernardo of Brazil. Moras is coming off a decision loss to Lucie Pudilova to see her UFC record fall to 2-2. Benardo has yet to secure a UFC victory, losing fights to Marion Reneau and Irene Aldana.

Moras is 3 inches taller than Bernardo, but Talita will have a 1″ reach advantage. The Canadian is a year younger.

These fighters share a couple of key similarities. Both fighters do their best work on the mat and both girls have some questionable gas tanks beyond the first frame.

Bernardo started strong in her debut with her top game, but gassed and was finished. In her next fight, she was unable to get her opponent on the mat and slowed considerably as the fight advanced.

Moras has finished 4 of her 5 wins, with her lone decision win coming over a foe that was impacted by a bad weight cut. On the mat, she offers a strong top game and can also work off her back, but she lacks consistent wrestling to set up her BJJ.

While she has finished 4 opponents by sub- all inside the opening round, Talita has faced some questionable competition finishing 4 foes with a combined 8-17 record.

This fight most likely will come down to who can stay fresher longer and earn top position. Moras is the bigger fighter and has faced and defeated better competition. Look for her to pick up some opportunistic top control while scoring during some gritty striking exchanges. The final round of this bout could get sloppy, but my prediction is Sara Moras to defeat Talita Bernardo by decision.

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155lbs- Te Edwards (6-1-0) vs Don Madge (7-3-0)

A pair of UFC newcomers square off as Tuesday Night Contenders product Te “T” Edwards meets South Africa’s Don “Magic Man” Madge in the Lightweight division. Edwards enters the fray following a 28 second knockout of his most recent foe which extended his current winning streak to 5 consecutive fights. Madge has won 4 in a row, all by stoppage- he has fought his entire career under the EFC banner.

Despite sharing a 72″ reach, Madge will stand 4 inches taller at 6’0″. They were born just 2 months apart.

Madge enters the UFC having finished all 7 of his pro opponents- 6 in the opening round. His last 3 opponents are a combined 31-29, but only 1 has a record over .500.

Offering an equally as finish-heavy record, Edwards has stopped 6 opponents by knockout- all in the opening round. His only fight to go beyond the first 5 minutes ended in a decision loss. “T” owns a trio of stoppages inside the first 60 seconds.

Madge comes from a kicking boxing background and while Edwards has shown a willingness to stand and trade, he needs to consider returning to his wrestling roots.

This is a difficult fight to predict with both men debuting. Madge does have the size advantage and has the superior collection of experience beyond the opening round. That being said, the South African MMA scene is still developing and has yet to produce UFC level talent. Edwards could get himself in some trouble if he completely forgoes his wrestling, but appears to be the more proven fighter- my prediction is Te Edwards to defeat Don Madge by TKO

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265lbs- Arjan Singh Bhullar (7-1-0) vs Marcelo Golm (6-1-0)

Canadian Heavyweight Arjan Singh Bhullar looks to rebound from the first loss of his career when he takes on Brazil’s Marcelo Golm. Golm is also coming off his first career defeat- after a successful debut, he dropped a decision to Tim Johnson last February. Bhullar defeated Luis Henrique in his first Octagon bout, but fell by submission to Adam Wieczorek in his last fight

At 6’3″, Golm is 2 inches taller and will weigh-in roughly 5 pounds heavier than Arjan. They share a 75″ reach and Golm is the younger man by 6 years.

Golm will be taking his first fight outside the borders of Brazil and he is coming off his first fight to go beyond the first round. Prior to the Johnson fight, Marcelo had finished all of his adversaries- 5 by knockout.

In stark contrast, Bhullar has only ended one fight in the opening frame. He is 4-0 in decisions, including a 5 round decision win in 2016.

Golm comes from a grappling background and wins the majority of his fights from top position. The Canadian also does his best work on the floor, changing his level for a takedown and grinding out his foe from top position.

With both men coming off their first career defeat, they will be hungry to get back in the win column. Prior to coming to the UFC, Golm faced some very low-level competition and his lack of experience/success outside of the opening round is concerning. Singh will need to be careful early, but once he establishes his wrestling he should find increasing success as the fight advances- my prediction is Arjan Singh Bhullar to defeat Marcelo Golm by decision.

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155lbs- Stevie Ray (21-7-0) vs Jessin Ayari (16-4-0)

The opening fight of the night will feature Scotland’s Stevie “Braveheart” Ray battling German-born Jessin Ayari in the Lightweight division. Ray has dropped back to back decisions, including a narrow split against Kajan Johnson- he is 5-3 in the promotion. Ayari is coming off a loss to recent title challenger Darren Till, he earned a split decision win over Jim Wallhead in his debut.

Jessin is making his Lightweight debut, he is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Ayari is the younger fighter by 2-years, but he has been out of action for 17-months.

Ray has put together some solid wins, finding the majority of his success on the feet. The Scot has some pop in his hands and can counter strike, but this can result in some close fights on the scorecards.

The German has won 8 times by sub, but has yet to showcase his ground game over his 2 UFC outings. He is a combined 0-8 on takedown attempts.

The debuting 155er could focus his attack on his ground game as Ray has been submitted 4-times over his career and has been taken down on multiple occasions.

The long layoff and divisional debut both have the potential to impact Ayari performance. Ray is the more pure striker and unless the German begins to find consistent success with his ground game, he is going to struggle to match Ray on the feet. Stevie has decent power and the cut 15-pound cut could prove detrimental to a fighter that has already been stopped twice in his career- my prediction is Stevie Ray to defeat Jessin Ayari by TKO.

125lbs- #2 Sergio Pettis (17-3-0) vs #5 Jussier Formiga (21-5-0)

Potential title challengers meet in the final fight of the prelims as Sergio Pettis takes on Brazil’s Jussier Formiga. Pettis is coming off an upset win over Joseph Benavidez, one fight removed from a pre-championship loss to Henry Cejudo. Formiga has won back to back bouts since a 1-2 skids that also included a narrow loss to the now-champion Cejudo.

Pettis is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 8-years.

While he has worked to improve his striking, Formiga’s success still comes on the strength of his grappling game. A BJJ ace, the Brazilian has submitted 10 opponents including each of his last 2 opponents. The majority of his wins have come via RNC, as Jussier boasts one of the best back control games in the business. His takedown numbers aren’t overwhelming, but he often only needs one completion to finish the fight.

The long-time contender Formiga has been unable to secure a shot at the title, losing a number of fighters that went onto challenge for the title.

Pettis’s approach to this fight won’t come as a surprise- stay vertical and win the striking exchanges. Pettis offers a solid striking repertoire and while he might not boast the biggest knockout numbers, he has shown he can still do damage. In his last fight, he hurt his opponent early and used the momentum on route to a decision win. The big concern for Pettis has been his takedown defence. He has given up 9 takedowns over his last 3 fights and has been taken down at least once in 10 of his 11 UFC fights.

Pettis has outstruck his opponent in 8 of his last 9 fights.

This fight will come down to how effective Pettis’s TDD is. Pettis’s history of being taken down suggests that Jussier is going to get multiple opportunities to being his ground skills to bear. If Pettis can survive and scramble back to his feet, he will need to be very active and push the pace. Sergio simply doesn’t have the power to disuade Formiga from closing the gap- my prediction is Jussier Formiga to defeat Sergio Pettis by decision.

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170lbs- Vicente Luque (13-6-1) vs Jalin Turner (6-3-0)

In the Welterweight division, “The Silent Assassin” Vicente Luque prepares to take on UFC debutant and Tuesday Night Contenders Series graduate Jalin “The Tarantula” Turner. Luque has won back to back fights improving to 6-1 over his last 7 outings. Turner scored a TKO due to doctor stoppage during his Contenders bout which extended his current winning streak to 3.

At a massive 6’3″, Turner stands 4 inches taller than Luque, but he will have just a 2″ reach advantage. Turner is the younger man by 4-years and he traditionally fights at Lightweight.

Turner makes his big show debut on the strength of all 7 of his pro wins coming inside the distance- 6 by knockout and all 7 in the opening frame. In his last bout, he utilized his length well, landing big punches and hurting his opponent to the body on multiple occasions with both kicks and punches. He did get tagged with a couple of shots when he pushed forward to engage and he has a tendency to leave his chin exposed when trading.

Turner has limited experience beyond the first round, losing both fights that went more than the initial 5 minutes.

Luque continued to show the diversity of his game with a knockout win over Chad Laprise. Overall, he has split his 12 finishes evenly between submissions and knockouts. He has power in his hands and authors decent kicks at range and hard knees in close. On occasion, he will change levels for a takedown. If he doesn’t initiate a clean shot, he is opportunistic submission fighter that will attack for a sub in just about any positions. He appears to have an affinity for chokes, including a nasty D’Arce choke.

Similar to his opponent, Luque doesn’t have a strong record beyond the opening frame. He is 1-6-1 in fights that go to the 3rd round, but he is also 12-0 inside the opening 10 minutes.

Turner is making the move to the big show and moving up a weight class. He has some pop in his hands, but his lack of experience and success outside of the first round is concerning. It becomes even more concerning when you consider the key to beating Luque has been to drag him into the 3rd round. Luque’s diversity will be the key here; he has the power to hurt Turner on the feet and will most likely work in some ground offence against a striking based opponent- my prediction is Vicente Luque to defeat Jalin Tuner by submission.

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135lbs- #9 Aspen Ladd (6-0-0) vs Tonya Evinger (19-6-0 1NC)

Former Invicta FC Bantamweight champion and UFC Featherweight title challenger Tonya Evinger makes her first post-Cyborg appearance when she battles top 10 ranked Aspen Ladd. Evinger lost her debut title shot to Cyborg after compiling an impressive 7-0 1NC record under the Invicta banner. Ladd also went undefeated at 5-0 fight for Invicta, she debuted with a stoppage win over Lina Lansberg.

Evinger is an inch taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Ladd, who spent some time at Flyweight is the younger fighter by 14-years.

Ladd hasn’t fought in nearly a year after her last fight was scrapped after she failed to properly cut the weight. Aspen has a pretty solid finishing rate, stopping 5 of her 6 professional adversaries- 4 by knockout. She is an aggressive fighter, pushing forward to engage from the onset of the fight. She appeared to have issues with the clinch and volume of Lansberg prior to getting the finish in round 2.

After earning an opening round win in her pro debut, all of Ladd’s stoppages have come in the second half of her fights.

The efforts of Evinger to hang as long as she did with Cyborg was commendable. Evinger has been out of action 14-months since that bout as well. She comes from a wrestling background and implements a takedown-heavy attack in the majority of her fights. She has been vulnerable to submissions, getting tapped out 4 times, but she also has won 7-times by sub.

Against Cyborg, Evinger attempted 4 takedowns and completed just one.

This contest has the potential to be a back and forth grind, but the difference will be positional control. While Ladd carries a steady pace, she has a tendency to relinquish position and let her foe dictate where the fight transpires. Evinger is a great top control wrestler and can do work in the clinch as well. Evinger will find success controlling Ladd on the cage and pick up a couple key takedowns in the process- my prediction is Tonya Evinger to defeat Aspen Ladd by decision.

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155lbs- Scott Holtzman (11-2-0) vs Alan Patrick (15-1-0)

Brazilian Lightweight Alan “Nuguette” Patrick takes his first fight outside of Brazil since 2016 when he meets “Hot Sauce” Scott Holtzman. Patrick is coming off a trio of wins, most recently besting Damir Hadzovic. Holtzman is 4-2 inside the Octagon, winning his last 2 fights over Darrell Horcher and Michael McBride.

Patrick is 2 inches taller than “Hot Sauce”, but the Alan will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. They are the same age, but Patrick started his pro career 4 years earlier than Holtzman.

Despite holding a BJJ Black belt, Patrick has just a pair of early career submission wins. That being said, his takedowns and top control have been the key aspect of his success. He has landed at least 1 takedown in each of his UFC wins, totalling 22 over 5 fights. He is coming off his UFC best 9- takedowns. The biggest concern for Patrick is his tendency to get a little over aggressive and open himself up when attacking.

Patrick has fought just 3-times outside of Brazil, winning 2- but suffering a TKO defeat in Germany.

Holtzman is also coming off his UFC best for takedowns, completing 7 of 11 attempts. He has lived and died on the mat, Scott has been taken down at least once in each of his last 5 fights and has given up a combined 13 completions over his 2 UFC losses. “Hot Sauce” should focus his attack on staying vertical. He is the superior technical striker and offers a better work rate as well.

With a 6-2 record on the scorecards, Holtzman has finished just one of his last 8 opponents.

Patrick’s approach isn’t stylistically pleasing, but it is effective and he shouldn’t change anything here. Holtzman is the better striker, but he will have to close the distance with regularity and that will create openings for Alan to change levels and shoot. Holtzman’s lacks stopping power will require him to stay vertical for at least 2 rounds to earn the decision, he won’t- my prediction is Alan Patrick to defeat Scott Holtzman by decision.

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135lbs- #12 Lina Lansberg (8-3-0) vs Yana Kunitskaya (10-4-0 1NC)

The final fight of the Fightpass prelims features Swede Lina “Elbow Princess” Lansberg taking on Russian born Yana “Foxy” Kunitskaya in the Women’s Bantamweight division. Lansberg is coming off of a decision win over Gina Mazny to improve to 2-1 since her debut loss to Cyborg. Kunitskaya is making her sophomore appearance after following a similarly unsuccessful debut against Cyborg.

Lansberg is an inch taller, but Kunitskaya will have a 3″ reach advantage. The Russian is the younger woman by 7-years.

Training alongside Holly Holm, Kunitskaya has won the majority of her fights by TKO. She comes from a striking background;  Boxing, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo. That being said, her submission skills have been on display in recent action. Her overturned Invicta title win came via submission and prior to getting tapped out in the rematch, she was attacking off her back as well. She does her best work in the clinch, controlling and attacking her foe.

She had some momentary success against Cyborg; taking her down and nearly taking the champion’s back.

Lansberg has done her best to reinforce her nickname, working the majority of her offence from the clinch. The Swede was able to hold Cyborg on the cage for a little while and she has spent the majority of her other fights doing the same. Once on the wall, Lina will unload with elbows and short punches while working to maintain her control. Her recent TKO loss did highlight a major concern if she gets taken down as she struggled on her back.

Lina’s cardio has been a bit on an issue and she has been known to fade in more demanding fights.

Both girls like to work from the clinch position. For Yana, she focusses more on landing knees and looking to set up her submission game. Conversely, it is positional control that Lina puts her focus on. Lansberg’s periodic lull if offence can be concerning, but unless Kunitskaya can grab a submission- her willingness to give up position will benefit Lansberg. Lina controls her on the cage and lands elbows while defending the Russian’s attacks- my prediction is Lina Lansberg to defeat Yana Kunitskaya by decision.

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155lbs- Gray Maynard (14-7-1 1NC) vs Nik Lentz (30-9-2 1NC)

Far removed from his 2011 Lightweight title contention, Gray “The Bully” Maynard takes on fellow longtime UFC veteran Nik “The Carny” Lentz. Lentz is coming off a loss to David Teymur and has gone 3-2 since returning to Lightweight- most notably choking out Will Brooks. Maynard ended a 4 fight losing skid with a win in his Featherweight debut and he has gone 2-1 since cutting to 145-pounds.

Maynard is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Lentz is the younger man by 5-years, but he has nearly twice the pro experience. Gray has been on the shelf for nearly 15-months. Gray is returning to the Lightweight division for the first time since 2015.

Early in his career, Lentz earned a reputation as a grinder, but he has since adopted a more aggressive pressure attack. He couples a gritty striking attack with a high volume wrestling game. Over his last 7 wins, he has completed 30 takedowns. Conversely, Nik has struggled against other wrestling based adversaries- losing the takedown battle 20-4 over his last 6 losses.

Lentz is 1-4 in his last 5 fights when he was unable to land a completion, with his only win coming via guillotine after getting taken down.

Beyond his failed title venture, Maynard’s UFC tenure has been characterized by 2 key elements: his ability to wrestle and more recently his inability to take a punch. At his best, “The Bully” is a suffocating wrestler with a strong top game. At his worst, his inability to take a punch has cost him on multiple occasions.

Despite his questionable chin, Gray has not been knocked out since 2014.

Lentz’s struggles with wrestling oriented opposition will be on display here as Maynard appears refocused on his takedown attack. If Lentz can keep it on the feet and attack with volume, he could either outwork Gray or stop him. The majority of Lentz’s knockout wins have been the product of a wrestling advantage and his willingness to go to his back for a guillotine attempt will cost- my prediction is Gray Maynard to defeat Nik Lentz by decision.

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170lbs- Ryan LaFlare (13-2-0) vs Tony Martin (12-4-0)

The opening fight of the night will feature New York native Ryan LaFlare taking on former Lightweight Tony Ferguson in the Welterweight division. LaFlare is coming off of a decision win over Alex Garcia to rebound from the first stoppage loss of his career- he is 7-2 in the Octagon. Martin defeated Keita Nakamura in his last bout and has put together an impressive 5-2 run since starting his UFC tenure 0-2.

The younger man by 6-years, Martin moved up to Welterweight in his last fight. LaFlare is the taller man by an inch and will have the same length reach advantage.

Martin’s grappling game has been at the focal point of his UFC tenure; both good and bad. Tony has won 8-times by submission, twice in the UFC, and has leaned heavily on his takedowns. Conversely, he has been submitted twice and his early struggles were the product of his faltering cardio. In his recent fight, he has made noticeable strides in his with his striking and he is coming off his first win in which he did not secure a takedown.

Martin appeared to improve his cardio over his final few fights at Lightweight and moving up to Welterweight will allow him to avoid further draining his body.

In similar fashion to Martin, LaFlare has also utilized a wrestling heavy attack. During the early portion of his UFC career, he completed 19 takedowns over a 4-fight winning streak. In more recent action, he hasn’t put up the volume of takedowns. He is coming off a fight where he lost the takedown battle 5-1, but he was routinely able to scramble into a superior position.

LaFlare has not finished an opponent since his final pre-UFC fight back in 2013.

At Lightweight, Martin was able to bring his size and strength to bear on his opponent. That isn’t going to be the case against a bigger Welterweight like LaFlare. LaFlare is the less aggressive grappler, but he is also more positionally sound. He should find success both grinding Martin into the cage and controlling him on the floor-  edging him out the later rounds- my prediction is Ryan LaFlare to defeat Tony Martin by decision.

155lbs- Charles Oliveira (23-8-0 1NC) vs Christos Giagos (15-6-0)

In the Undercard headliner, Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira returns to Brazil for the first time since 2015 when he takes Christo “The Spartan” Giagos. Oliveira is coming off a UFC 225 submission win over Clay Guida and has gone 2-1 since returning to the 155-pound division. Giagos went 1-2 during his first stint in the UFC, but after winning 4 of his last 6 fights he got the return call to the Octagon.

Both men are 5’10”, but Oliveira will stand 3 inches taller. The American is the younger man by a year.

During his first UFC tenure, the success and failure of Giagos came on the mat. He dropped his debut via submission and game up 4 takedowns in a decision loss prior to getting cut. Giagos’s only UFC win was also the third submission win of his career. With a trio of losses via tap out, Christos will need to be very careful of the crafty submission game of Oliveira.

Charles has submitted 15 opponents, accounting for 10 of his 11 UFC wins. The Brazilian offers a variety of techniques and is incredibly opportunistic. On the feet, Oliveira will attack with impunity as he is afraid of being taken down. While he has yet to score a knockout in the UFC< he throws good kicks and knees with power.

The biggest knock on “Do Bronx” has been his lack of durability. He has lost multiple fights where he appears to shut down after taking a minimal amount of damage.

Giagos has a history of struggling with ground-based opposition, so he will need to maintain constant separation in order to be successful. Oliveira has improved his wrestling to further magnify his ground skills and he often only needs 1 opportunity to finish a fight. Look for the Brazilian to push forward, tie Giagos up in the clinch or shoot and then start attacking submissions- my prediction is Charles Oliveira to defeat Christos Giagos by submission.

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155lbs- Francisco Trinaldo (22-6-0) vs Evan Dunham (18-7-1)

A pair of former top-15 ranked fighters collide as Brazil’s Francisco Trinaldo meets Evan Dunham who will be making his 20th and final walk to the Octagon. Dunham is coming off a TKO loss to Oliver Aubin-Mercier, ending a 5-fight undefeated run. Trinaldo had won 7 consecutive fights, but he has since gone 1-2 with losses to Kevin Lee and James Vick.

The soon-to-be-retired Dunham is an inch taller, but they share the same 70″ reach. Dunham is the younger fighter by 3-years.

Trinaldo has developed a strong striking attack and coupled it with improved cardio. When he is able to fight at his own pace, he can maintain a consistent output without experiencing a drop off in performance. That could be an issue against Dunham, who works at a very steep pace and has eclipsed the 100-significant strike mark in 3 of his last 4 wins.

While Dunham isn’t the quickest fighter, his constant pressure is a lot to handle. Conversely, his willingness to constantly engage has exposed him to some significant damage over his career. Evan has been finished in each of his last 3 defeats, including back to back TKO stoppages that were the result of strikes to the body.

Dunham is a capable wrestler as well, landing 10 takedowns during his recent 4 fight winning streak.

This fight will be won by either Trinaldo’s brute force or Dunham’s relentless aggression. Dunham needs to push the pace and exhaust the Brazilian without exposing himself to the sizeable power that Francisco will be throwing back. Trinaldo throws hard kicks and knees to the body which is an area of vulnerability for Dunham. While a win to end his career would be a nice way to go, my prediction is Francisco Trinaldo to defeat Evan Dunham by TKO.

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205lbs- Luis Henrique (10-4-0 1NC) vs Ryan Spann (10-5-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Luis “KLB” Henrique takes on the debuting Ryan “Superman” Spann. Henrique went 2-3 while fighting as a Heavyweight, most recently dropping a decision to  Arjan Bhullar. Spann lost his first Contenders Series fight via 15-second knockout in mid-2017 but has since won 4 in a row including a 26-second submission win on his second appearance on the Tuesday Night show.

Henrique is returning to the Light Heavyweight division for the first time since 2015, but he will stand 3″ shorter than Spann and give up a sizeable 7 inches of reach. Henrique is the younger man by 2 years.

Spann’s time on the Contenders Series has been short, but he has scored a knockdown in both fights. Overall, he has finished 10 opponents by submission and 3 more by knockout. The majority of his wins have come by either guillotine or rear-naked choke. Henrique is a BJJ Brown belt with 4 pro submission. He completed 8 takedowns in his first 4 UFC bouts.

Henrique might opt to keep this fight standing and test the chin of the American. Spann has been finished twice by knockout, not including getting hurt early in his fight with Alex Nicholson. Henrique hasn’t scored a win by knockout since 2012 when he was fighting at Light Heavyweight. Against bigger man at Heavyweight is power didn’t seem to hold up as well.

Regardless of Henrique’s gameplan, he will need to find a way to work through the reach of Span to get into attacking range.

Spann is a concerning 0-3 in his last trio of bouts to go beyond the first round and his durability is questionable. Henrique is a grinder and while he has been knocked out on multiple occasions- it was at Heavyweight and he took some serious damage prior to the finish. The weight cut is key for Luis, but it if goes well, look for him to grind down Spann and eventually hurt him with strikes either standing or on the mat- my prediction is Luis Henrique to defeat Ryan Spann by TKO.

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265lbs- Augusto Sakai (10-1-1) vs Chase Sherman (11-4-0)

Contenders Series graduate and 6-fight Bellator veteran Augusto Sakai makes his UFC debut when he takes on Chase “The Vanilla Gorilla” Sherman in the Heavyweight division. Sakai went 4-1-1 in Bellator with a split decision loss to Cheick Kongo giving way to a 2-fight winning streak outside of the promotion. Sherman has lost back to back fight, most recently via decision to Justin Willis- he is 2-4.

Both men are 6’4″, but it will be Sakai that comes in close to the limit and 10-15 pounds heavier than the American. Sherman will have a 1″ reach advantage.

Each man exhibits above-average speed and movement for the Heavyweight division. Additionally, they each employ a decent volume of kicks in their attack and both fighters have won the majority of their bouts via knockout.

The key difference is the durability factory. While Sakai has shown a willingness to absorb damage, he can take it. Sherman doesn’t wear it nearly as well and his chin isn’t nearly as sturdy with a trio of defeats by knockout.

Sherman needs to keep this fight on the outside and avoid getting drawn into a firefight. Sakai’s low kicks will slow him down and if he opts to close the gap, the Brazilian’s clinch work can be devastating. Sherman won’t be able to avoid or withstand Sakai’s power- my prediction is Augusto Sakai to defeat Chase Sherman by knockout.

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170lbs- Sergio Moraes (13-4-1) vs Ben Saunders (22-9-2)

In the Welterweight division, Sergio “Panther” Moraes takes on Ben “Killer B” Saunders. Moraes is coming off of a split decision win over Tim Means and has put together an impressive 7-1-1 run over his last 9 fights. Saunders stopped Jake Ellenberger in his last recent outing, ending a 2-fight losing skid- he has 3 wins in his last 5 fights.

Saunders is the taller man by 2 inches and will have a 5″ reach advantage. Ben is the younger man by a year.

Ben offers a variety of weapons, including a capable submission game, but he would be best suited to avoid the ground against Moraes. Saunders does have 10 career wins by knockouts, doing his best work in the clinch with knees and elbows.

Despite Moraes’s elite level BJJ game, he prefers to slug it out on the feet. He has landed just a single takedown over his last 6 fights and hasn’t picked up a submission win since 2013. Moares doesn’t have a lot of pop on the feet, but his willingness to come forward aids his overall offence.

Sergio is 5-0-1 in his last 6 fights at home, including a 2-0-1 record in split decisions.

Saunders has the edge on the feet, but he is far from an overwhelming striker. Moraes’ aggression will be the key to overcoming Saunders’ reach and if he can time Ben’s kicking game it could set up a key takedown. In a close fight, Moraes has the edge fighting at home- my prediction is Sergio Moraes to defeat Ben Saunders by decision.

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125lbs- Mayra Bueno Silva (4-0-0) vs Gillian Robertson (5-2-0)

In the second of 3 Women’s fights on the card, Canadian Gillian “The Savage” Robertson goes for UFC win #3 when she battles Contender’s graduate Mayra Bueno Silva in the Flyweight division. Robertson has upset both Emily Whitmire and Molly McMann by submission. Silva made her pro debut in 2016 with a pair of wins and scored a 62-second submission to get the call to the big show.

Silva has traditionally fought at Bantamweight and will stand an inch taller than her foe. Robertson is the younger fighter by 4-years.

The Brazilian has a trio of opening-round finishes, including 2 inside the first 90-seconds. She also won a 5-round split decision in March of 2017. Her last 2 adversaries offer a solid 17-4 combined record, so she has faced a decent competition in her short pro career.

Robertson has finished 4 of her 5 pro wins with submissions. She has a solid top game and is willing to take her foe to the floor. While she snatched the early submission win in her debut, she wore her sophomore opponent out with a steady attack on the mat prior to getting the finish.

The Brazilian is debuting in the UFC, fighting at lighter weight class than in her recent fights, and she has fought beyond the opening round just once. Robertson’s grind mat game and willingness to push forward will be a lot to handle if Silva can’t get the early finish. Look for Robertson to push the pace early, defend Silva’s grappling attempts, and take over as the fight advances- my prediction is Gillian Robertson to defeat Mayra Bueno Silva by decision.

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185lbs- Thales Leites (27-9-0) vs Hector Lombard (34-9-1 2NC)

Former Bellator Champion Hector Lombard attempts to put a halt to his tailspin when he takes on 2009 Middleweight title challenger Thales Leites. Lombard is coming off a loss via DQ for landing late strikes against CB Dollaway- he has lost 5 consecutive fights. Leites has dropped back to back bouts after suffering a 3rd round TKO defeat against Jack Hermansson.

The Brazilian is 4 inches taller and will have a marked 7″ reach advantage. Hector is the older man by 3-years.

Lombard’s loss to Dollaway was the product of strikes that dropped CB after the bell. For Leites, he is coming off a fight where is opponent was clearly injured during the action but rallied and finished Thales in the final frame.

Leites is the taller man and might have a slight edge in cardio, unless Lombard can keep the fight at his pace. The big issue with Hector has been his inability to land enough volume in close fights and more recently the finishes have started to pile up.

In his last 2 fights at home, Leites has been badly outclassed with his last win on Brazilian soil coming over 5-years ago.

Lombard has the edge in power and his takedown defence is still strong. If Thales can’t score takedowns, he will need to find success out-striking Lombard- especially with his low kicks. Lombard’s power should serve him well here, as long as he doesn’t punch himself out. Without his BJJ, Leities becomes too one-dimensional and when he gets tired he will start to give up position- my prediction is Hector Lombard to defeat Thales Leites by decision.

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170lbs- #15 Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (19-5-0) vs Luigi Vendramini (8-0-0)

A late opponent change sees Brazil’s Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos welcome promotional newcomer and Italian-born Luigi “The Italian Stallion” Vendramini to the UFC. Dos Santos was originally scheduled to face Belal Muhammad- he has won 5 straight fights since his unsuccessful UFC debut. Undefeated, Vendramini is coming off an opening-round TKO win under the Samurai Fight banner- he turned pro in 2016.

Vendramini fought last on September 7th, just 2 weeks ago- he will have just over a week to prep for his debut. He is 10-years younger than dos Santos, but 3 inches short. He traditionally fights at Lightweight.

Luigi has split his 8 career wins evenly between knockouts and submission- all but 2 occurring in the first round. Fighting mainly in Brazil, his last 2 opponents carry a combined record of 14-10, but prior to that, he has face mainly sub-.500 competition.

The Brazilin is coming off an impressive opening round TKO win, but prior to the stoppage, he had showcased his ability to go deep into bouts and utilizes volume and durability to pick up wins. In his 4 wins to go into the 3rd round, he has surpassed the 70-strike mark on 3 occasions.

The TDD has been a concern for dos Santos, but he has shown a willingness to get back to his feet with regularity.

There is just too much riding against Vendramini; extreme late notice, debut, fighting above his weight class, and taking a sizeable step up in competition. Dos Santos is durable, hits hard, and offers a nice variety of offence- that is a bad matchup for a young fighter with limit experience beyond the opening frame. Dos Santos can win this fight early with his power or overwhelm his foe as the action advances- Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos to defeat Luigi Vendramini by TKO.

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115lbs- Livia Renata Souza (11-1-0) vs Alex Chambers (5-4-0)

In the opening fight of the night former Invicta Strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza makes her UFC debut opposed Aussie Alex “Astro Girl” Chambers. Souza has won back to back fights and went 4-1 under the Invicta banner- with her only loss coming via split decision to Angela Hill. Chambers has struggled her way to a 1-3 record under the UFC banner, securing her only UFC victory over Kailin Curran.

Souza is 2 inches taller than Chambers and 13-years younger. Chambers hasn’t fought in nearly 10-months and Souza has been out of action for 13.

At 39-years old, Chambers is one of the oldest females in the UFC. On the plus side, she has just 9 pro fights so she doesn’t have the wear and tear of other older fighters. Souza has a slight edge in overall experience and fighting in a trio of title fights is also a positive.

A BJJ Black belt, Souza has submitted her foe in 7 of her 11 wins- 3 by armbar. Chambers has a pair of submission wins, including her only UFC victory- but for the most part, she has struggled on the floor. Chambers gave up 6 takedowns over his first 3 UFC fights and has been submitted 3 times as a pro.

Chambers also has a tendency to fade in fights, slowing down as the action reaches rounds 2 and 3.

Souza is making her debut after a bit of a layoff which can impact a fighter’s performance but fighting at home will be an added advantage. Chamber’s has struggled with the type of skill set that Souza provides and at her age, sitting out for nearly a year won’t be to her benefit. Look for Souza to find success with her grappling attack, wearing Chambers down until she is able to synch up a submission- my prediction is  Livia Renata Souza to defeat Alex Chambers by submission.

185lbs- Khalid Murtazaliev (13-2-0) vs CB Dollaway (18-9-0)

In the headlining scrap of the undercard, TUF alumni and 19-fight UFC veteran CB “The Doberman” Dollaway battles the debuting Khalid Murtazaliev in the Middleweight division. Dollaway has won back to back bouts, including a decision win over Ed Herman at Light Heavyweight and DQ victory over Hector Lombard back at 185-pounds. Murtazaliev is riding a 2-fight winning streak and has been defeated just once over his last 6 bouts.

Dollaway is the taller fighter by 2 inches, but they will have the same 76″ reach. Dollaway is the older fighter by a month, but started his pro career 7-years before Murtazaliev. This is the third opponent change that CB has had to deal with, he was initially pegged to face Omari Akhmedov. Murtazaliev is stepping up with just a week to prep.

Murtazaliev has been an absolute destroyer, finishing his first 12 fights by knockout. After finishing 8 opponents in the opening round, he is coming off the first decision victory of his career. Despite his impressive finishing numbers, Murtazaliev isn’t known for pushing an intense pace. Moreover, he counts on his power both standing and from top position to make up the difference.

The cardio of the Russian is a bit of a question mark and while he has good offensive wrestling, he has also been taken down on multiple occasions as well.

Dollaway has remained relevant by coupling together an improved striking attack with an already capable wrestling game. Dollaway landed 6-takedowns and against Herman and has averaged just over 3.5 per fight. CB has also shown a recent improvement in cardio, winning 4 of his last 6 fights on the scorecards.

The big concern for “The Doberman” is his chin. CB has been knocked out on 4 occasions,  including a brutal 2015 KO defeat against Nate Marquardt.

This fight could ultimately come down to the chin of the American. If Dollaway’s durability proves up to the challenge, look for him to utilize his wrestling and more active striking attack to outwork his adversary. The short notice won’t do Murtazaliev any favours as the fight advances beyond the first frame and Dollaway will captialize- my prediction is DB Dollaway to defeat Khalid Murtazaliev by decision.

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135lbs- Petr Yan (8-1-0) vs Jin Soo Son (9-2-0)

After a successful UFC debut, Petr “No Mercy” Yan looks to add to his win total when he battles DEEP veteran Jin Soo Son of South Korea. Yan eliminated Teruto Ishihara via knockout inside the opening round to extend his winning streak to 4 in a row. Son is also riding a 4-fight winning streak, including a TKO win back in April to kick off his 2018 schedule.

Yan is an inch taller than Son, but he will give up 2 inches of reach. The Russian is the older man by 2-months. Son is replacing Douglas Andrade on short notice.

In his debut, Yan showcased his pressure and power striking attacks. While he didn’t throw a lot of volume, he cut off the cage and kept his foe backing up. When he did land, he was hurting his foe and swarmed him for the finish.

Yan has finished 5 opponents, 4 by knockout. His UFC debut was just hist 3rd opening round stoppage.

Both fighters have recently avenged early career defeats. Yan won a 2017 decision over Magomed Magomedov, who he lost a split decision to in 2016. Son scored a knockout of Toshiaki Kitada earlier this year to recover a decision loss from 2 years prior.

Son has finished 6 of 9 opponents- 4 by knockout. Despite ending the majority of his bouts before the final bell, he has just 2 opening round stoppages and none in his last 8 fights. He has faced experienced and capable competition with his last 2 foes combining for a record of 53-27.

Confident in his ability to both dish out and absorb damage, Son will stand and trade. In his last fight, after hurting his opponent he openly taunted while pressing forward for the finish.

There is not a lot of footage available on Son, but his willingness to stand and trade is going to get him in trouble with Yan. The Russian hits very hard and constantly stays in striking range. This should be an entertaining scrap for however long it lasts, my prediction is Petr Yan to defeat Jin Soo Son by TKO/

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155lbs- Rustam Khabilov (21-3-0) vs Kajan Johnson (22-13-1)

A pair of multi-fight UFC veterans squares off as Russia’s Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov faces Canadian-born Kajan Johnson in the Lightweight division. Johnson is coming off a loss to Islam Makhachev, snapping his 4-fight winning streak. Khabilov is working his way back into contention on the strength of a 5-fight winning streak, most recently besting Desmond Green.

Johnson is 3 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Rustam is the younger man by 2-years.

This bout was originally scheduled to take place last March, but Khabilov pulled out due to injury and Johnson defeated Stevie Ray.

Kajan has been a road warrior, going 3-0 in bouts in England, Japan, and the Philippines and will once again face a crowd favourite in Khabilov. He is 1-2 while fighting inside the Octagon at home.

Johnson is a capable fighter wherever the fight goes, but his level of aggression often gets himself in trouble. In recent bouts, he has shown an improved focus on his defence- but that has resulted in a downturn in overall offence.

In similar fashion, Khabilov is far from an overwhelming striker but supplements his vertical offence with a multitude of takedowns. He does have some pop in his vertical offerings, he is usually looking to close the distance and shoot.

“Tiger” has completed 21 takedowns over his last 5 wins, averaging just over 4 per UFC appearance.

The Canadian has an avenue to victory in this fight, but he needs to maintain an above average striking pace while keeping Khabilov on the feet for the duration of the bout. That is not going to be easy. Khabilov’s wrestling is his key to victory and with the exception of one fight, no one has been able to stop his TDAs- my prediction is Rustam Khabilov to defeat Kajan Johnson by decision.

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155lbs- Mairbek Taisumov (26-5-0) vs Demond Green (21-7-0)

In the Lightweight division, Mairbek “Beckan” Taisumov takes on Bellator veteran Desmond Green. Green is coming off a decision win over Gleison Tibau to even his UFC record at 2-2. Taisumov has won 6 of his 7 UFC fights including 5 in row- all by knockout.

Green is an inch taller than his counterpart, but they will share a 73″ reach. Green is the younger man b a year.

A capable wrestler, Green has had mixed results inside the Octagon. He successfully took Michel Prazeres down on 3 occasions but also gave up a trio of takedowns. Rustam Khabilov completed 3 as well.  The biggest knock on Green has been his lack of aggression, but against Tibau he showed an increased focus on striking output,

Green was recently involved in car accident in which 2 people lost their lives. In addition to the potential for injury, Green’s level of focus heading into this bout has to be a concern.

Piling up the body count, Taisumov has knocked out 16 opponents- 5 in the UFC. He is the first and only man to have knocked out each of the last 3 fighters he has faced. He throws heavy combinations and augments his boxing with a strong kicking attack. With so much success on the feet, Taisumov hasn’t had to rely as much on his wrestling- he completed 7 takedowns over his first 3 UFC wins.

Taisumov has not fought a full 15-minutes since his 2014 loss to Michel Prazeres. His longest fight during his current streak lasted just 90-seconds into the middle round.

It is surprising that Green hasn’t removed himself from this fight and he still might. Nonetheless, Green has struggled with less capable strikers than Taisumov and unless Desmond is able to offer an uptick in his offense (striking and wrestling), he is going to struggle. Taisumov needs to be mindful of going for the finish early and gassing out. Mairbek outworks Green, landing the more frequent and impactful strikes- my prediction is Mairbek Taisumov to defeat Desmond Green by decision.

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205lbs- Magomed Ankalaev (8-1-0) vs Marcin Prachnio (13-3-0)

A pair of fighters coming off of devastating defeats will try to return to the win column as Magomed Ankalaev takes on Marcin Prachnio in the Light Heavyweight division. Ankalaev dominated Paul Craig in his debut, before surrendering the tap to a triangle choke at the 4:59 mark of the final frame. Prachnio made his debut against Sam Alvey, getting hurt during an exchange before walking face-first into the fight-ending knockout blow.

Both men are 6’3″, but Ankalaev will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. The Russian is the younger man by 4-years.

In his debut, the big Russian dominated the majority of the action, outlanding his foe 59-18. He utilized a controlled striking approach,  firing of strong 1-2 mixed in with hard body kicks while maintaining a strong defensive front.

Magomed did get taken down on a couple of occasions, but he was able to counter into top position. From top position, he is capable of unleashing brutal, fighting ending ground and pound.

An aggressive finisher, Prachnio has stopped 11 opponents, 10 by knockout, and all 11 in the first frame. Marcin tends to hold his hands a little low and was overextending on his strikes. Building on his Kyokushin background, his techniques had good pop behind them and he was effectively mixing up his offence to the head and body.

It appeared that the pressure of his UFC debut impacted Prachnio’s performance. His body language suggested he never got comfortable prior to the end of the fight.

Ankalaev’s inability to hold off tapping with just a second on the clock is a little concerning, but attempting to rebound from his first defeat should motivate him here. Prachnio should also have a better performance with his debut behind him as well as fighting a little closer to home. Prachnio’s power and aggression give him a puncher’s chance, but Ankalaev’s superior offensive and defensive technique along with his takedowns will serve as a solid counter- my prediction is Magomed Ankalaev to defeat Marcin Prachnio by TKO.

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185lbs- Adam Yandiev (9-0-0) vs Jordan Johnson (9-0-0)

A battle of undefeated fighters will feature the debut of Russia’s Adam “Beard” Yandiev when he takes on injury replacement Jordan “Big Swingin'” Johnson in the Middleweight division. Johnson is 3-0 in the UFC, most recently edging out a win over Adam Milstead in March. Yandiev has yet to taste defeat as a pro, including a trio of wins un the M-1 Global banner.

Johnson formerly competed at Light Heavyweight to start his career, but is now moving down to 185-pounds. He is 5 inches taller and will have a 5″ reach advantage. They are both 30-years of age.

There are some significant elements to unpackage when looking at Yandiev. In addition to making his UFC debut, he has not competed as a pro since 2015, he fought 7-times that year, and began his career just one year earlier.

The heavily-muscled Russian has also never fought beyond the opening round, finishing most of his foes inside the first half of frame 1. Of his 9 stoppages, 6 have come by submission- mostly choke-based finishes.

Johnson has gone the distance in 4 consecutive fights, including his 3 UFC wins. A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, “Big Swingin'” started his pro career with 4 first round finishes- 3 by sub.

Since coming to the UFC, Jordan’s wrestling has been at the forefront of his offence. Landing 8 takedowns over 3 fights, he completes just 36% of his attempts. His low completion percentage is a product of dogged pursuit of the takedown.

In addition to the aforementioned issues, there is a lot of controversy surrounding Yandiev. Based on his Judo background, he should have the skills to deal with Johnson’s TDAs- but the layoff, lack of long fight experience, and heavily-muscled build suggest he will fade. Johnson will chip away at him, with the takedowns coming easier as the fight advances- my prediction is Jordan Johnson to defeat Adam Yandiev by submission.

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170lbs- Ramazan Emeev (17-3-0) vs Stefan Sekulic (12-2-0).

Promotional newcomer Stefan Sekulic of Croatia takes on 2-fight UFC veteran Ramazan “Gorets” Emeev in the UFC’s Welterweight division. Emeev debuted with a win over Sam Alvey while fighting at Middleweight before adding a decision victory over Alberto Mina at UFC 224. Sekulic is riding a 2-fight winning streak after rebounding from injury based TKO loss.

Sekulic will stand 2 inches taller than Emeev, but the Russian will have a 1″ reach advantage. Sekulic is replacing Claudio Silva on roughly 2 weeks notice.

A former M-1 Middleweight champion, Emeev has finished 10 opponents- 7 by knockout. His 2 UFC victories are the product of a low volume grinding attacking- working in the clinch with a couple of key takedowns while limiting the output of his foe.

Emeev made his Welterweight debut against Mina which should give him a better feel for how his body will perform this time around.

Winning the majority of his fights by submission (6), Sekulic has a pretty decent takedown game to go along with an opportunistic guillotine choke. All of his submission wins transpire early in the fight, suggesting he switches his focus to controlling position over submission if he is unable to get the early stoppage.

Sekulic is recovering from a nasty leg injury suffered early in 2017.

This could be a closely contested fight with both men offering similar skill sets. Emeev appears to be the more complete striker, but the if he doesn’t remain active Sekulic could outwork him. Ultimately, Sekulic is coming in on very short notice, hasn’t had a full camp to prep, and is making his debut along with moving down a division- that is a lot for a fighter to overcome in a potentially gruelling bout- my prediction is Ramazan Emeev to defeat Stefan Sekulic by decision.Paragraph breaker

135lbs- Merab Dvalishvili (7-3-0) vs Terrion Ware (17-7-0)

In first-ever UFC bout to be contested on Russian soil, Terrion “Flash” Ware looks for hSi

s first UFC victory when he takes on Georgian-born Merab Dvalishvili in the Bantamweight division. Ware has lost all 3 of his UFC bouts, all by decision, most recently succumbing to Tom Duquesnoy in March. Dvalishvili will also attempt to break his UFC slump, as he has been defeated in both Octagon tussles- including a controversial submission loss to Ricky Simon.

The American will stand 2 inches taller and hold a 3″ reach advantage over Merab. Dvalishvili is the younger man by 5-years.

Ware has been saddled with some contentious results- in his has last fight he landed more strikes and takedowns- but still lost the decision. “Flash” is 8-5 on the scorecards, including a pair of split decision wins.

A wrestler by trade, Dvalishvili has completed a combined 17 takedowns over 2 UFC outings. The biggest concern with Merab’s wrestling is his top position management- he needs to main control, but also remain active.

The takedown game of Dvalishvili could be the deciding factor in this fight. Ware’s TDD has been an area of focus by his opponents; over his first 2 UFC fights, he surrendered 11 completions.

If Ware can stay vertical he can win this fight with his striking, but the constant aggression of Dvalishvili will still be a lot to deal with. Look for the Merab to launch a barrage of takedown attempts, forcing Terrion to remain on the defensive for the majority of the bout- my prediction is Merab Dvalishvili to defeat Terrion Ware by decision.

115lbs- #6 Carla Esparza (14-5-0) vs #9 Tatiana Suarez (7-0-0)

In the Undercard headliner, former Strawweight champion Carla “Cookie Monster” Esparza takes on TUF 23 winner Tatiana Suarez. Esparza is coming off a split decision loss to Claudia Gadelha, snapping her 2-fight winning streak. Suarez is 3-0 inside the Octagon including a pair of submission wins over Bobby Cooper and Alexa Grasso.

Suarez is 4 inches taller than Esparza and will have a 4″ reach advantage. She is the younger fighter by 3 years.

The wrestling of “Cookie Monster” has largely been the key to her success. When Carla is able to dominate the takedown battle, she usually wins. Over her 4 UFC wins she has controlled the wrestling by a count of 18 takedowns to 1. Conversely, in defeat- the ration is much closer at 7-4. Esparza doesn’t get enough credit for her striking.

Her loss to Randa Markos proved the exception to the rule, while Carla was able to land 4 takedowns- she was on the defensive once they hit the floor and dropped a split decision as a result.

Suarez’s success has also been built around her ground game. A talented wrestler, Tatiana has linked her takedowns skills with a strong submission acumen. She has just 3 wins by submission as a pro, but she also won a pair of TUF tournament bouts by tap out. Suarez has completed an impressive 81% of her TDAs and once on top she smothers her opponent.

Suarez was on track to wrestle at the 2012 Olympics before suffering an unfortunate neck injury while training.

Suarez has yet to be tested on the feet and if Esparza can force her to remain vertical, that could be the turning point for the former champion. That will be easier said than done. Suarez wrestling is superior to Esparza’s and her size advantage will further magnify the gap. Esparza has struggled when pressed by other capable ground fighters and Tatiana could be the best she has faced to date- my prediction is Tatiana Suarez to defeat Carla Esparza by decision.Paragraph breaker

135lbs- #8 Aljamain Sterling (14-3-0) vs #10 Cody Stamann (17-1-0)

In the second Bantamweight fight on the undercard, Aljamain “Funk Master” Sterling squares off with the surging Cody Stamann. Sterling is coming off a win over Brett Johns and has been victorious in 3 of his last 4 fights. Stamann has yet to taste defeat in the UFC, winning a trio of bouts including a split decision win over Bryan Caraway last time out.

Sterling is an inch taller, but he will have a massive 7″ reach advantage.

After landing 12 takedowns over his first 2 UFC bouts, Stamann relied on his defensive wrestling in his next outing. Against Caraway, he stuffed 22 of 23 TDAs. That being said, Stamann struggled when put on his back in round 1 and spent a lot of time trying to create separation throughout the rest of the fight. Stamann has some pop in his punches, but he didn’t start to land significant volume until Caraway slowed in rounds 2 and 3.

Despite putting up better statistical offence in each of his last 2 outings, Cody has won both fights by split decision.

Sterling is coming off of his most well-rounded victory, on the heels of a brutal knockout defeat against Marlon Moraes. Against Johns, Aljamain melded together his wrestling and striking offence. He completed a trio of takedowns well setting his UFC personal best for significant strikes landed. Sterling has shown a lack of urgency at times, too willing to sit back and counter- but he was much more aggressive against Johns.

Excluding his knockout loss to Moraes, Sterling has landed more strikes then all of his opponents including a total of 84-48 in his 2 narrow split decision losses.

Sterling’s uptick in his vertical output is a crucial improvement in his overall attack. Against Stamann, he will fight all the way in or all the way out, avoiding the in-between stages. Stamann’s lack of long range weapons will make it difficult for him to overcome the reach and kicking arsenal of his opponent. When Cody attempts to close the distance, Sterling will change levels and shoot or tie him up in the clinch. Sterling will land more strikes while holding the edge in the grappling and wrestling exchanges- my prediction is Aljamain Sterling to defeat Cody Stamman by decision.

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135lbs- #5 Jimmie Rivera (21-2-0) vs #7 John Dodson (21-9-0)

In the first of 2 massive Bantamweight bouts, Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera looks to rebound from his first loss since 2008 when he takes on John “The Magician” Dodson. Dodson picked up a win over Pedro Munhoz in his most recent outing- he is 3-2 since returning to Bantamweight. Rivera began his UFC career with 5 consecutive victories- he suffered an abrupt 33-second knockout against Marlon Moraes in his last fight.

Rivera is an inch taller and will have a 2-inch reach advantage over Dodson. Jimmie is the younger man 5-years.

Dodson’s success has hinged on his ability to avoid and devastate. Recently, he has struggled to achieve those goals. His last win by knockout came in 2016 and he has just 2 since mid-2014. Even more concerning, “The Magician” is 2-2 over his last 4 decisions with 3 splits. Dodson carries a near even striking exchange rate and his reliance on counter striking doesn’t always translate well with the judges.

Dodson is 9-9 on the scorecards with an overall record of 2-4 in split decisions.

Holding a much stronger 15-1 record on the scorecards, Rivera hasn’t lost on the cards since his 2nd pro bout back in 2008. The key to Rivera’s success has been volume, pressure, and durability. He has routinely pushed forward and outworked his foe, eating their best offence in return. On occasion, he has been staggered and he is coming off a devastating knockout loss.

Jimmie will utilize his wrestling to score takedowns and help secure points in close rounds.

Rivera may have relied too much on his durability and it could start costing him moving forward. Additionally, in a close fight if Jimmie can’t pick up a couple of key takedowns against John’s rock solid TDD- that could also be signifcant. Dodson’s big left hand is going to test the chin of his foe and John’s speed and lateral movement will make it hard for Rivera to stay in the pocket. Coming off such a devastating loss for the first time in nearly 10-years will be tough to overcome- my prediction is John Dodson to defeat Jimmie Rivera by knockout.

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185lbs- Charles Byrd (9-4-0) vs Darren Stewart (8-3-0 1NC)

In the Middleweight division, “The Dentist” Darren Stewart returns to the cage to take on UFC sophomore Charles “Kid Dynamite” Byrd. Byrd made a successful debut with a submission win over John Phillips last March. Stewart picked up his first official UFC win and snapped a 3-fight losing streak with a middle round knockout of Eric Spicely.

Stewart is 2 inches taller than Byrd and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Stewart is the younger fighter by 7-years.

A former Welterweight, Byrd scored an early takedown in his debut and took the heavy hands of his opponent out of the equation with a first-round submission. Including back to back Contender Series’s fights, Byrd has submitted each of his last 3 opponents and 5 overall.

The submission skills of the American could be key to his success as Stewart has been submitted in each of his last 2 UFC fights. That being said, “The Dentist” is coming off of a win over a capable submission fighter. Stewart showed improved TDD and forced his foe to trade with him on the feet resulting in a knockdown and TKO win.

Stewart has a reputation for fading in physically demanding bouts and with Byrd moving up from Welterweight he has shown he can maintain a torrid pace and force his foe to work. If he is able to push Stewart early, it will pay dividends later in the bout.

The Brit has power and throws hard. If Stewart can connect he has the ability to finish Byrd. Unfortunately, his chances to land will be limited. Look for “Kid Dynamite” to shoot early and often and even if he can’t score on his initial shot, he will drain Stewart in the clinch. Byrd is no slouch on the feet either which will help him to set up his takedown attempts- my prediction is Charles Byrd to defeat Darren Stewart by submission.

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170lbs- Diego Sanchez (29-11-0) vs Craig White (14-8-0)

In the headlining bout of the FightPass prelims, Diego Sanchez returns to action when he takes on UFC sophomore Craig “Thundercat” White. Sanchez is coming off back to back losses to Al Iaquinta and Matt Brown in his recent return to Welterweight- both losses were by knockout. White made a very short notice debut last May and lost via opening round TKO to Neil Magny.

At 6’2″, White is 4 inches taller than Diego and he will have a 4″ reach advantage as well. White is the younger man by 9-years.

White came out looking to clinch and drag Magny to the mat. He was unsuccessful. His primary method of attack is on the floor, including 9 wins by submission- mostly by choke. His striking didn’t look bad against Magny, but it appears to be a means to an end- helping to close the distance.

Overall, the Brit has been finished 7-times, including 4 by some form of knockout. He is 3-3 outside of the opening frame.

Sanchez is a shell of his former self. His once vaunted durability has given way to a shaky chin that has resulted in 4 losses by knockout, including each of his last 3 losses. Despite his diminished chin, Sanchez will still willingly race across the cage and engage his foe. Against Brown, he looked for an early single leg and kept the fight at close range prior to the stoppage.

Diego’s TDD remains solid and he has never been submitted.

White’s willingness to punch his way into the clinch could result in a stoppage if he connects. If White can’t get the fight to the floor, look for him to willingly go to his back and allow Diego to hold top position. Diego is capable of grinding this fight out in the superior position and with White’s limit experience beyond the opening round and high rate of getting finished- Diego could get a stoppage. Sanchez is taking a sizeable step back in a must win fight, close to home- my prediction is Diego Sanchez to defeat Craig White by TKO.

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155lbs- Jim Miller (28-11-0 1NC) vs Alex White (12-3-0)

A veteran of 29-Octagon wars, New Jersey’s own Jim Miller takes on “The Spartan” Alex White in the Lightweight division. Miller has lost 4 straight fights, most recently succumbing to Dan Hooker via first-round knockout. White is coming off a loss on the cards to the streaking James Krause, he is 3-4 inside the Octagon including a 2016 win over Artem Lobov.

Formerly fighting at Featherweight, White will stand 4 inches taller than Miller but they will share a 71″ reach. White is the younger man by 5-years.

At 35-years old, Millers appears to be will on the decline of his career. He is coming off a nasty knockout loss which is the second of his career. Despite being finished just twice, Miller has struggled to match the volume of his opponents. Over his 3 defeats prior to the Hooker loss, he has been outlanded 240 to 153.

Jimmy still remains a threat on the mat, despite his last submission win coming in 2014.

White enters the contest still looking to gain solid footing inside the Octagon. In each of his last 3 defeats,”The Spartan” has been taken down a combined 7-times compared to zero takedowns given up over his trio of UFC wins.

The vertical volume of White has remained fairly consistent. Excluding his loss to Tony Martin, he has averaged just over 62 significant strikes per fight and outlanded his foe in 3 of his last 4 contests.

Miller’s best avenue to victory is on the mat by either securing multiple takedowns or snatching a submission. Unfortunately, he hasn’t shown consistent wrestling in recent bouts and he lacks the punching power or volume to win a fight solely on his feet. Look for White to land the more impactful and frequent strikes while out-muscling Miller in close. Miller tends to start strong, but begins to fade just enough to let his foe pull away- my prediction is Alex White to defeat Jim Miller by decision.

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135lbs-#12 Irene Aldana (8-4-0) vs #13 Lucie Pudilova (8-2-0)

The first of 4 women’s fights on the card, Mexico’s Irene Aldana takes on Czech Republic-born Lucie Pudilova in the Bantamweight division. Aldana recently snapped a 2-fight losing skid with a decision win over Talita Bernardo- her first UFC win. Pudilova has rebounded nicely from her debut defeat with back to back triumphs over Ji Yeon Kim and Sarah Moras.

Aldana is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage over her foe. Pudliova is 6 years younger.

Entering the UFC, Aldana had finished all 7 of her pro wins- 5 by knockout. Her record outside of the opening round sits at a dismal 1-4, including a pair of late stoppage defeats. Over her first 2 UFC outings, her opponents landed a combined 274 strikes with Irene falling behind further as the fight advanced.

Aldana does have strong striking fundamentals and throws hard. She showed improve energy management in her last fight, but against a less capable striker.

The Czech fighter has picked up back to back wins primarily on the basis of her striking skills. She does a decent job of working behind a stiff left jab and using her movement to stay active. She has had issues with the power strikes of her foe with Kim landing hard punches with regularity and Moras stunning her with an early high kick.

Pudilova hasn’t shown much focus on initiating on the floor, but she did do damage against Moras once she defended the early sub attempts.

This fight should be an all-action scrap. Pudilova needs to stay busy with her jab and push a torrid pace to test the conditioning of Aldana. Irene is the superior striker in both variety and power and Lucie’s willingness to take punishment is concerning. Pudilova has a pension for rallying late, but Aldana just hits too hard to continuously trade with- my prediction is Irene Aldana to defeat Lucie Pudilova by TKO.

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125lbs- Roberto Sanchez (8-1-0) vs Jarred Brooks (13-2-0)

In the Flyweight division, Jarred “The Monkey God” Brooks takes on Texas-born “Little Fury” Roberto Sanchez. Sanchez is 1-1 in the UFC most recently defeating Joby Sanchez by submission. Brooks is replacing Ryan Benoit on less than 1 week’s notice and is coming off a self-inflicted knockout loss to Jose Torres- he has lost 2 of his 3 UFC fights.

Sanchez is 3 inches taller than Brooks and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Brooks is the younger fighter by 7-years.

Brooks appeared to be off to a good start against Torres, winning the opening round before landing on his head during a TDA and getting knocked out. Despite the folly, Jarred’s wrestling has been the key to his offence; landing a combined 14-takedowns over 3 fights.

His striking has been a secondary aspect of his offence, but he showed improvements against Torres with his combination punching. This could be a key to his success in this fight at Sanchez does his best work on the floor.

Offering a submission heavy record, Sanchez has subbed his opponent in 7 of his 8 pro wins. Including his only UFC victory, he has won 5-times by RNC. Against Joby Sanchez, he shot early and transitioned to his back after winning a scramble on the floor. He was looking for the early takedown in his debut, but was unable to secure it, got hurt on the feet and subbed shortly after.

The majority of Sanchez’s vertical offence is built around closing the distance to set up his grappling game.

Brooks is undersized for the division, but that should help him when trying to make weight on short notice. The key to this fight will be Brooks utilizing his wrestling to dictate where the action takes place. Brooks appears to have the more impactful and active striking attack to go along with a speed advantage. Sanchez will try to close the distance which should create openings for Brooks to score points with takedowns. Unless Brooks crashes hard or suffers from the recent knockout, his skill set is a strong counter to what Sanchez does best- my prediction is Jarred Brooks to defeat Roberto Sanchez by decision.

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170lbs- Geoff Neal (9-2-0) vs Frank Camacho (21-6-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal takes on Frank “The Crank” Camacho in the Welterweight division. Camacho dropped a decision to Drew Dober and is now just 1-2 in the UFC win his only win coming via split decision. Neal made short work of Brian Camozzi with an opening-round submission to extend his winning streak to 3 straight contests.

Neal is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by a year. Camacho is fighting again at Welterweight after struggling to make weight at Lightweight.

A native of Texas, Neal showcased solid hand speed in both his final pre-UFC fight and his debut. Against Camozzi, he threw combinations with decent pop before securing his first submission win since his pro debut. Neal has finished 5 opponents by knockout including 3 in the first round.

Neal has shown good takedown defence when put under pressure. Staying vertical and swiftly scrambling back to his feet if taken down.

Camacho has put together some impressive stats landing 260 strikes over his last 2 outings. Unfortunately, he has just a split decision win to show for it. Defensively, his opponents have averaged just over 114 significant strikes per fight. Despite his lack of finishes at the UFC level, Frank has stopped 15 opponents by knockout. He has also been stopped 3-times.

Camacho is a talented grappler with an extensive BJJ background. He completed a trio of takedowns against Dober, landing them from the clinch.

Going hand in hand with his porous defence, Camacho’s cardio is a major vulnerability. He was noticeably tired early in round 2 against Dober.  Unless Frank can routinely score takedowns from the clinch, he is going to struggle to keep up. Neal hits very hard and should start to pour it on once Camacho begins to slow down- my prediction is Geoff Neal to defeat Frank Camacho by TKO.

 

170lbs- Warlley Alves (13-2-0) vs James Krause (13-2-0)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, Brazilian TUF winner Warlley Alves meets the streaking James Krause in the Welterweight division. Krause has won 4 consecutive bouts including a recent fight at Welterweight. Alves has rebounded nicely from the first 2 defeats of his career, earning a pair of victories including a TKO stoppage of Sultan Aliev.

At 6’2″, the former Lightweight Krause will stand 3 inches taller than Alves to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. Alves is the younger man by 5-years.

Alves is a well-rounded fighter with solid pop in his hands and a nasty submission game. He has subbed 8 foes, including 5 by his signature guillotine choke. With 7 of his first 10 wins coming inside the first half of his fights, Alves had minimal deep fight experience and it showed against Bryan Barberena as he tired and lost on the cards. Since that loss, he has shown an improved focus on maintaining a more manageable pace. While he is far from a high volume striker, he has shown he can push deeper into bouts and remain dangerous without fading.

Krause has a wealth of experience and solid submission game of his own, submitting 14 opponents. He also will focus his attack on chokes, including a solid triangle attack off his back. In his last fight, Krause relied on his wrestling to put his foe on the floor and score points. On the feet, Krause was having some issues with the aggressive striking of White, who was attacking in barrages.

The best bet for the American is to push the pace and force Alves to work at a rate he is not comfortable with. For Alves, he should hold the edge in physical strength and Krause isn’t the type of wrestler that has troubled Alves in the past. If Krause is unable to score takedowns, he will have to stand and trade with the heavier hitter. Look for Alves to grind Krause on the case, land the bigger strikes, and potentially hold some key top position time- my prediction is Warlley Alves to defeat James Krause by decision.

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135lbs- Cory Sandhagen (8-1-0) vs Iuri Alcantara (35-9-0 1NC)

In the penultimate preliminary bout, formerly top 15 ranked Iuri Alcantara looks to keep in the win column when he takes on promotional sophomore Cory Sandhagen in the Bantamweight division. Alcantara snapped 2-fight losing skid with a TKO victory over Joe Soto last February. Sandhagen has won 3 consecutive fights since his first career defeat, including a successful middle frame TKO win in his UFC debut.

The American is the taller man by 2 inches, but he will give up an inch of reach. Sandhagen is 12-years younger then Alcantara and will be making his Featherweight debut.

Alcantara returned to form in TKO win over Soto. He has a dangerous striking arsenal both in variety of weapons and stopping power. His bing undoging has been his overall lack of output. He often lets his opponents outwork him. Similarly, he is a dangerous submission fighter- capable of locking of a fight ending hold at any time. Yet, he has seemed to complacement on his back when taken down and given away rounds because of it.

In his debut, Sandhagen landed 80-significant strikes in just under 2 rounds of action. He threw a nice variety at his opponent, including landing hard body and leg strikes. He remains active and maintains consisent pressure. His volume and ability to keep attacking his foe, especially to the body, was his key to success in his debut.

Alcantara has stopped 29 opponents while Sandhagen  has just 9 pro fights. Conversely, Alcantara has just 1 win over his last 8 fights where he was unable to finish his foe. His lack of urgency allows his opponent to outwork him and score points with the judges. If he is unable to finish or at the very least hurt Sandhagen, he will struggle to match his output. If the cut goes well and Alcantara is unable to find that fight altering moment, this is Sandhagen’s contest to win- my prediction is Cory Sandhagen to defeat Iuri Alcantara by decision.

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185lbs- Andrew Sanchez (10-4-0) vs Markus Perez (10-1-0)

In the Middleweight division, Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez takes on late notice replacement, Markus “Maluko” Perez. Perez submitted the underwhelming James Bochnovic in his UFC sophomore fight to rebound from the first loss of his pro career. Sanchez has suffered back to back knockout losses to Ryan Janes and the red-hot Anthony Smith.

Perez is replacing Antonio Braga Neto on roughly 3-weeks notice. Both men are 6’1″, but Sanchez will have a slight 1″ reach advantage.

Sanchez’s approach to winning is fairly simple- takedowns and top control. He has completed 13 over his 4 fights in the UFC, but despite landing 7 in his last 2 fights- he has gone winless. Early against Janes, he showed he was capable of doing damage on the feet and nearly finished him. His inability to get the stoppage resulted in “El Dirte” fading and getting finished.

Perez did a decent job defending his opponent’s early grappling attempts before ending the bout with a submission. He has picked up 4 wins by sub. The Brazilian’s top game proved key to his success as he control top position and eventually worked towards the finish. On the feet, he has some pop in his hands and will throw some unconventional techniques.

The growing concern surrounding Sanchez’s cardio could trump a decent skill set. If Sanchez can grind on Perez with his wrestling, he could take home a decision win. That being said, Perez is active on the mat and will force Andrew to work hard everywhere this fight takes place. Look for Sanchez to start strong again, but once he begins to fade Perez will control of the action on the feet- my prediction is Markus Perez to defeat Andrew Sanchez by TKO.

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170lbs- Mickey Gall (4-1-0) vs George Sullivan (17-6-0 1NC)

In the Welterweight division, CM Punk killer, Mickey Gall returns to action when he takes on “The Silencer” George Sullivan. Sullivan is coming off back to back losses and has just a single win his last 4 UFC outings. Gall is looking to rebound from the first loss of his pro career, a decision defeat against Randy Brown.

At 6’2″, Gall will stand 2 inches taller than Sullivan with a 1″ reach advantage. Sullivan is the older man by 11-years- he returned after a 2-year layoff prior to his last fight.

Sullivan has a sizeable edge in experience, but stylistically this is a tough matchup for him. His overall grappling defence has been a major point of vulnerability. He has been submitted in 4 of is 6 losses and he has relinquished at least 2 takedowns per fight in each of his 6 UFC contests. He has given up 15 overall.

Gall is a grappler by trade, winning each of his 4 pro bouts by rear-naked choke. Mickey offers a strong top game and works constantly towards earning the submission. Against Brown, he struggled to get the fight to the floor, but once he did he had his best moments of the fight.

The best chance for Sullivan to emerge with a victory is to turn this bout into a brawl and force Gall out of his comfort zone. That will be easier said than done. Gall will have a sizeable edge on the mat and Sullivan has struggled tremendously both staying vertical and defending once on his back- my prediction is Mickey Gall to defeat George Sullivan by submission.

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125lbs- Joanne Calderwood (11-3-0) vs Kalindra Faria (18-7-1)

In the Women’s Flyweight division, former Strawweight contender Joanne “JoJo” Calderwood looks to make an impact in her return to the division when she takes on Brazilian Kalindra Faria. Faria is 0-2 in the UFC, suffering a submission loss in her debut and a split decision defeat to Jessica Eye in her sophomore performance. Calderwood iced Valerie Letourneau back in a 2016 Flyweight bout, but she has gone 0-2 since with back to back losses in the Strawweight division.

“JoJo” has been off for 13-months and missed weight for her last fight. Faria is an inch taller, but Calderwood will have a 3″ reach advantage.

Calderwood looked very good in her lone Flyweight fight, indicating that the cut to 115-pounds could simply be too much for her. At her best, she is a lethal striker with an undervalued ground game. The Scot has good pop in her strikes and throws a nice variety of techniques. She has surpassed the century mark twice in the UFC, including 115 significant strikes against Letourneau in just over 2 rounds.

Faria has a fairly diversified record, but she has struggled against next level competition. She landed an early head kick that rocked Eye and overall she has 7 wins by knockout. Despite a collection of submission wins, the mat game has been a concern in the UFC. After the sub loss in her debut, she got out grappled by Eye for the majority of the fight.

Calderwood has been caught a couple of times on the mat with subs and Faria’s aggression could serve her well if they do hit the floor. That being said, the Brazilian doesn’t appear to offer the wrestling game needed to take Calderwood down. Calderwood is the more technically sound striker and her volume appears to be superior- my prediction is Joanne Calderwood to defeat Kalindra Faria by decision.

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155lbs- Drew Dober (19-8-0 1NC) vs Jon Tuck (10-4-0)

In the second fight of the night, Drew Dober returns to the Lightweight division to take on the native of Guam- Jon “Super Saiyan” Tuck. Drober is coming back to back wins over Josh Burkman and Frank Camacho- he is 4-1 over his last 5 bouts. Tuck is also coming off a victory; submitting Takanori Gomi for his just his second win over his last 5 contests.

Tuck has not competed since in roughly 14-months. He is the taller man by 3 inches and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Dober, who has fought twice since Tuck last saw action- is 4-years his junior.

This should be an entertaining scrap, as both men are willing to compete anywhere inside the cage. Tuck has some decent power in his hands and a strong grappling acumen- but his cardio has been his undoing. He is just 1-4 in decisions and has lost each of his last 3 fights to go outside of the opening round.

Conversely, Dober has won 6-times on the scorecards and each of his last 2 fights to go the distance. Dober has added some new weapons to his repertoire. He is coming off a 145-strike effort and has recently shown improved power and a willingness to wrestle. He will need to be mindful of the submission game of Tuck- Dober has been tapped out twice.

Tuck’s tendency to fade is concerning against a fighter like Dober that keeps pushing deep into a contest. Additionally, the prolonged layoff could further impact the cardio of “Super Saiyan” and create some ring rust. Dober needs to be careful early, but look for him to start pulling away with his striking volume as the fight enters the second half- my prediction is Drew Dober to defeat Jon Tuck by decision.

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135lbs- Rani Yahya (25-9-0 1NC) vs Luke Sanders (13-2-0)

Opening the night’s action will be a Bantamweight bout between the underrated Rani Yahya and the entertaining “Cool Hand” Luke Sanders. Sanders is coming off a must needed victory, scoring a decision win over Patrick Williams after back to back upset defeats to Iuri Alcantara and Andre Soukhamthath. Yahya has won back to back bouts- submitting both Henry Briones and Russell Doane- he 6-1 over his last 7 fights.

Both men stand 5’6″ and share a 67″ reach. Luke is the younger man by a year.

Sanders has showcased a strong offensive attack- including an absolute bludgeoning of Iuri Alcantara. Unfortunately, similar to his loss to Soukhamthath, Sanders was unable to parlay his strong start into a victory and got finished. On the feet, he carries a strong pace and packs decent power in his punches. Against Williams, he again started strong but faded in rounds 2 and 3 and got outlanded by a fighter that notoriously gasses after the opening round.

A grappling specialist, Yahya does not deviate from what he does best. Over his last 7 fights, he has completed 17 takedowns and once on top, he is a smothering grappler. While he is far from a plus athlete, his ability to jump on a single and then drag his adversary into grappling battle is incredibly impressive. Rani has recorded 19 of 25 wins by submission- including 3 of his last 4. His striking remains a secondary aspect of his attack and his cardio has created issues in longer fights.

There are windows for both men to win this fight. For Sanders, if he can stay vertical he can win the striking exchanges or if he can outlast Rani’s cardio he could take over the final 2 rounds. For Yahya, it will either be grappling his way to a decision or submission win. Rani is overwhelming on the mat and Sander’s recent struggles after good starts suggest he might not be able to capitalize on the Brazilian’s slowdown- my prediction is Rani Yahya to defeat Luke Sanders by submission.

135lbs-#9 Pedro Munhoz (15-3-0 1NC) vs #14 Brett Johns (15-1-0)

In the undercard main event, Brazilian submission machine Pedro “The Young Punisher” Munhoz takes on Brett “The Pikey” Johns in the Bantamweight division. Munhoz is coming off of a split decision loss to John Dodson that snapped his 4-fight winning streak which included submission of Rob Font and Justin Scoggins. Johns is looking to rebound from the first loss of his career, falling via decision to Aljamain Sterling- he won the first 3 fights of his UFC including a 30-second submission of Joe Soto.

Johns is an inch taller, but he will have a sizeable 7″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 6-years.

Munhoz is a lightning-fast submission artist, needing only a brief opening to slap on his patented guillotine choke. He has subbed 9 opponents. In his win over Rob Font, he utilized pressure on the feet and power strikes to force Font to panic wrestling and dive into the fight-ending choke. Pedro lacks a real strong wrestling attack, often relying on his foe to shoot on him.

While Munhoz has power, he has had some issues matching his foe’s output. Munhoz has been outlanded in 5 of his last 6 fights and overall he is 4-3 on the scorecards with a 1-2 record in split decisions.

Johns doesn’t have the finish heavy resume that Munhoz owns, but he has shown that he is capable of ending a fight early if given the chance. He is 8-1 on the scorecards. The key to his early UFC success was a takedown-heavy attack, including 11 in his debut. He picked up 3 more in his next fight. While he keeps a technically sound offensive front, he is far from an overwhelming volume striker. As a result, he is at his best when he can blend his wrestling and striking together.

Johns struggled against Sterling because he was unable to get the better of the wrestling exchanges and fell well-short in the overall striking output.

“The Pikey” needs to be letter perfect. He has to find a way to push a higher striking pace than normal and either avoid shooting or be incredibly careful of sticking his head in too deep. Munhoz’s pressure striking should allow him to dictate the pace on the feet and the threat of his submission game will either make the mat unappealing or fight ending for Johns. Johns relies too much on landing takedowns as a key part of his offence, he will spend the majority of this fight on the defensive- my prediction is Pedro Munhoz to defeat Brett Johns by decision.

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135lbs- Ricky Simon (10-1-0) vs Montel Jackson (6-0-0)

In the second to last undercard fight, Ricky Simon looks to follow up a successful debut when he takes on Contenders graduate Montel “Quik” Jackson. Simon extended his winning streak to 6 straight contests with a post-bell submission win over Merab Dvalishvili. Jackson scored a third round stoppage over Rico DiSciullo in front of Dana and company on the June edition of the show.

At 5’10”, Jackson is 4 inches taller than Simon to go along with a length 6″ reach advantage. Jackson’s record seems a little inconsistent as some sites have him listed at 3-0 while other put his mark at 6 wins.

“Quik” Jackson has shown his name to be accurate; his amateur record shows a trio of finishes inside the opening minute and his pro debut lasted less than 2 minutes. He scored a third-round finish in his last fight. Despite his pension for quick finishes, he showed composure and patience in his last bout- waiting out his opponent and looking for openings. Once he hurt his foe, he began to open up. He has power in his hands and a sharp stepping knee.

Jackson might have scored an opening round win against DiSciullo, but after hurting him on 2 separate occasions he landed an illegal blow that brought about a pause in the action. He lost 2 points over the course of the bout- Montel is taking this fight on 2 weeks notice.

Holding a sizeable edge in pro experience, Simon already has a 5-round decision win on his record over UFC veteran Chico Camus. Despite a frantic pace, Simon was letting his foe strike first and as a result, he got dropped in the opening frame. Simon showcased his wrestling skills, landing takedowns against a strong wrestler. He was also taken down, but did a decent job of getting back up. The late submission was a solid indication of his heart.

Simon’s debut totals were not indicative of a victorious fighter- he was outlanded 61-34 and gave up 6 takedowns to just 2 of his own completions.

Jackson has a sizeable edge in length and power, but as mentioned, Simon is the more battle-hardened fighter. Simon seemed to struggle with the aggressive striking of Dvalishvili and with Jackson’s attributes, that is a recipe for disaster. Both men can wrestle and if either can gain an edge it could be a deciding factor. Ultimately, it will be the more dangerous striking of Jackson that is the ultimate determinant- my prediction is Montel Jackson to defeat Ricky Simon by knockout.

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135lbs- Kyung Ho Kang (13-7-0 1NC) vs Ricardo Ramos (11-1-0)

In the Bantamweight, impressive Brazil prospect Ricardo Ramos meets South Korean “Mr. Perfect” Kyung Ho Kang. Ramos is 2-0 in the Octagon defeating Michinori Tanaka by decision and Aiemann Zahabi by third-round KO. Kang has won 3 bouts in a row, submitting Guido Cannetti and earning a split decision over the aforementioned Tanaka.

Despite both men standing 5’9″ and sharing the same 72″ reach- both men are very big for the division. Ramos is the younger man by 8-years. Kang’s last fight was his first since the summer of 2014.

Described as a “machine gun” submission artist, Ramos is known for chaining his submission attempts together until he gets the tap. He has finished 6 pro bouts by sub, focussing mainly on submissions. Despite his submission prowess, Ricardo dropped Tanaka with a counter left hand and put Zahabi down with a spinning back elbow. Ramos has gone to the 3rd round just 4-times, including both of his UFC fights.

While he is aggressive off his back, Ricardo does have a tendency to give up position for submission which allowed Tanaka to get on top and hold some key control time.

A very strong grappler in his own right, Kang has recorded 12 submissions compared to just a single defeat. Over his 5 UFC fights, he has recorded 11 takedowns while giving up 4. Capable of countering into top position during his opponent’s TDA, Kang is also quite adept at attacking off his back and orchestrating sweeps.

The biggest knock on Kang is his lack of consistent vertical output. He has been working to improve his striking, but it still remains a secondary aspect of his offence.

Ramos is proving himself dangerous wherever the action takes place, but he has shown signs of slowing in the latter stages of the action. Kang has the size and strength to match Ramos and the ground acumen to capitalize on the Brazilian’s willingness to give up position. Ramos will start strong, but once “Mr. Perfect” establishes his top position he will take control of the fight- my prediciton is Kyung Ho Kang to defear Ricardo Ramos by decision.

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145lbs- Matt Sayles (6-1-0) vs Sheymon Moraes (9-1-0)

In the Featherweight division, former WSOF title challenger Sheymon Moraes makes his sophomore appearance against the debuting “Tuesday Night Contender’s” graduate Matt “Robo” Sayles. Moraes lost his debut to Zabit Magomedsharipov and his WSOF title fight against Marlon Moraes with wins over Robbie Peralta and Luis Palomino in between. Sayles earned a first-round TKO win Yazan Hajeh in his last fight and has wins under both the RFA and WOSF banners.

Moraes is an inch taller and will have a 4″ reach advantage. Sayles is the younger fighter by 4-years. Moraes has formerly competed at Bantamweight.

Finishing 6 of his 7 wins, all by knockout, Sayles has fought beyond the opening frame just 3-times. Sayles moves well and throws crisp punches including a hard straight right that floor Hajeh. In his only pro defeat, he struggled to let his hands go and found himself on the wrong end of the grappling exchanges. The fight was still close and ended in a split decision.

A training partner of Dominick Cruz, “Robo” emulates some of the striking style of the former champion.

Moraes has picked up 5 wins by knockout including his 2015 WSOF win over Peralta. Based in Muay Thai, Moraes throws hard kicks to the body and legs. Attacking with speed, he held his own on the feet with Marlon Moraes and stopped Peralta with a nasty left hook. Moraes is a measured fighter, maintaining his composure and looking for his spots which can result in him engaging less then he should. His opponents seem to focus their attacks on takedowns and grappling. Moraes has yet to win a pro fight by submission.

Both of Sheymon’s losses have come by submission to fighters currently ranked in their respective UFC divisions.

This fight could come down to who is more active. Moraes throws hard strikes, but he tends to open himself up when engaging- especially with his hands. Sayles utilizes more movement, keeps his punches compact, and can work his wrestling into the equation when needed. Both of Sheymon’s defeats came in the third round as he appeared to fade. Sayles will need to avoid eating too many kicks, but look for him to outwork Moraes on the feet early and start to incorporate a few takedowns later in the bout- my prediction is Matt Sayles to defeat Sheymon Moraes by decision.

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125lbs- Alex Perez (20-4-0) vs Jose Torres (8-0-0)

A pair of future contenders collide in the Flyweight division, as Alex Perez takes on Jose “Shorty” Torres. Torres debuted with a slam knockout victory over Jarred Brooks to remain undefeated. Perez followed up his submission victory in his debut with a solid win over Eric Shelton last February.

Perez is the taller man by 2 inches, but they share the same 65″ reach. Both men are 26-years old.

Utilizing a wrestling-centric offensive attack, Perez has collected 7 takedowns over his 2 Octagon showings. Alex submitted 3 of his 4 opponents prior to his last fight and is a constant threat to his opponent’s neck. On the feet, Perez brings a lot of pressure and the threat of the takedown opens up gaps for him to land power punches and leg kicks as his foe focuses on staying vertical.

Perez did get cracked a couple of times in his debut and got out landed by Shelton 41-29.

Titan FC’s Dual Divisional champion, Torres has finished 6 opponents- 4 by knockout compared to just 2 decisions. Despite his finish-heavy win ratio, he has fought into 2nd round or beyond 5-times including 2 bouts that went into the championship rounds. Torres is a dangerous striker with solid power good technique to deliver it with.

Torres was dropped early by Brooks and gave up a few early takedowns.

“Shorty” was behind on the scorecards prior to Brooks’ attempted slam him and subsequent knockout. Against an undersized opponent, Torres’ offence seemed compromised by the threat of being taken down. Perez should look to shoot early to establish a similar scenario. Perez has to be mindful of the Torres counter striking, but once he closes the gap he will be in control- my prediction is Alex Torres to defeat Jose Torres by decison.

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115lbs- Danielle Taylor (9-3-0) vs Weili Zhang (16-1-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, Danielle “Dynamite” Taylor looks to rebound from her second UFC loss when she takes on the debuting Weili Zhang. Taylor dropped a decision to JJ Aldrich to see her UFC record drop to 2-2. Zhang lost the first fight of her pro career but has won 16 consecutive bouts since including a 7-0 run in 2017.

At 5’4″, Zhang will stand 4 inches taller than Taylor.

Zhang turned pro in 2013 and has seen a massive acceleration in activity over the last couple of years. Her last 4 opponents have a combined 29-25 record and 3 of the 4 were coming off of wins prior to facing Weili. In impressive fashion, the Chinese fighter has finished 15 of her 16 wins, 9 by knockout.

She has finished 9 in the opening frame with the rest ending in round 2.

Taylor has yet to display any finishing prowess in the Octagon. “Dynamite” has gone the distance in all 4 of her UFC bouts, including a pair of split decisions. She does have a trio of knockouts and was KOed back in 2015.

The American’s diminutive stature has made it difficult at times to land with regularity. She currently holds a near even striking exchange rate and has earned a couple extremely close victories.

While Taylor will work the perimeter, Zhang throws kicks and then will close the gap with power punches. She will trade in the pocket and while she has been hurt, she has yet to be finished. On the mat, she is aggressive both looking for a stoppage with strikes or attacking with a sub attempt. She is quite adept at finding full mount.

Taylor is frustrating, both in her lack of commitment to her strikes and how she can still be rewarded by the judges. The biggest concern here is Zhang’s lack of experience in longer fights. If she goes for the finish early, she could burn out. Nonetheless, she should have a decided edge in volume on the feet and the takedowns are an option as well. Taylor will need to find a way to back her up, she won’t- my prediction is Weili Zhang to defeat Danielle Taylor by TKO.

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135lbs- Marlon Vera (10-5-1) vs Wuliji Buren (10-5-0)

In the opening fight of the night, Marlon “Chito” Vera takes on China’s Wuliji “The Beastmaster” Buren in the Bantamweight division. After securing a trio of wins, Vera has stumbled in his last 2 fights with defeats to John Lineker and Douglas Silva de Andrade. Buren dropped his UFC debut last November to Rolando Dy via decision- he has won just 3 of his last 7 fights.

Buren is an inch taller, but Vera will have a 1″ reach advantage. “Chito” is the younger man by 3-years, he is replacing Bharat Khandare on 2 weeks notice.

Vera does his best work on the floor, securing 6 wins by submission- 2 in the UFC. A BJJ Black belt, he has never landed more than one takedown in a single fight and picked up both of his submission wins off his back after his foe took him to the floor.

In his debut, Wuliji completed 4 of 11 takedowns but struggled to maintain top control. His technique of preference appears to be the single leg, but he can get a little sloppy with engaging. Dy was able to counter into top position and Vera only needs a small opening to lock up a submission of his back.

On the feet, Buren isn’t an overly active striker and got knocked down early by Dy. Vera has struggled with power strikers but has shown he that he can work a decent volume game highlighted by his kicking attack.

Vera is 2-5 in decisions including 1-4 record in the UFC.

This is a tough stylistic matchup for Buren. He lacks the volume to deal with Vera on the feet and his takedowns leave him open to Vera’s crafty guard game. Buren will be playing with fire, but his best bet is to ground Vera and attempt to grind him out for the duration of the bout. Vera will find success on the feet and force Wuliji into desperation TDAs- my prediction is Marlon Vera to defeat Wuliji Buren by submission.

170lbs- Jordan Mein (30-12-0) vs Alex Morono (14-4-0 1NC)

In the headlining clash of the undercard, Alberta-born Jordan “Young Gun” Mein takes on Alex “The Great White” Morono in the Welterweight division. Mein ended a 3-fight losing streak with a decision win over Erik Silva- he is 4-4 in the UFC. Morono scored an opening round submission of Josh Burkman to halt a 2-fight winless skid- he is a respectable 3-1-0 1NC inside the Octagon.

The Canadian is an inch taller and will have a 1-inch reach advantage. Morono is the younger man by a year.

Morono utilizes an unorthodox striking style and usually lands in the range of 40 to 50 significant strikes with the exception of 111 strikes effort against James Moontasri. He utilizes a lot of pressure, moving forward and forcing his opponent to fight off his back. Alex does utilize a very upward stance that, leaves his chin exposed. He has only lost once by knockout, not including his KO loss to Niko Price that was overturned to a No Contest.

Despite his striking-heavy attack, Morono has just 4 wins by knockout compared to 6 submission victories. He has yet to complete a takedown in the UFC.

Mein came into his last fight with a focus on being more aggressive. He has finished 16 opponents by knockout, but has struggled to remain consistent with his output. Against Silva, he was finding more success putting his combinations together and landed the most strikes of his UFC tenure. “Young Gun” does his best work when he is blending together his offence; throwing punches to the body and elbows in the clinch along with more conventional offence. Adding to his vertical offence he landed a trio of takedowns.

Mein hasn’t fought at home in Alberta since 2011. He is 13-3 when fighting in his home province.

Morono gets a lot of credit for his volume, but upon closer inspection, his output stats are bloated by the Moontasri win. Mein is the more technical striker and hits harder, but he needs to avoid letting the American dictate the pace. If Jordan can pick up a few key takedowns, it should further help distance him on the scorecards. Returning home should have Mein fired up, my prediction is Jordan Mein to defeat Alex Morono by decision.

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145lbs- Hakeem Dawodu (7-0-1) vs Austin Arnett (15-5-0)

In the Featherweight division, Alberta’s own “Mean” Hakeem Dawodu takes on Austin “The Golden Boy” Arnett. Dawodu is coming off a forgettable and abrupt promotional debut, losing to Danny Henry via submission in just 39 seconds. Arnett has dropped back to back fights, losing to Brandon Davis on the “Contender’s Series” before debuting in the UFC with a TKO defeat to Cory Sandhagen.

Arnett is 4 inches taller than Dawodu, but the Canadian will have an inch reach advantage.

Hakeem’s debut was a pretty tough way to start his UFC run. He is primarily known as a striker, finishing 6 of his 7 wins by knockout, but he got to showcase almost none of his skill. He had success defending the early grappling advances of Steven Siler in his final WSOF bout, before going on to win his first an only decision win.

“Mean” Hakeem offers good head movement and can do damage in the clinch if forced to close the distance.

Not to be outdone, Arnett has split his 12 finishes evenly between knockouts and submission compared to just a trio of wins on the scorecard. Conversely, he appeared to slow down in his loss to Davis which could be attributed to his lack of recent long fight experience. Arnett is willing to trade on the feet, but he has simply been outwork in his 2 recent defeats.

Prior to making the move to the UFC scene, Arnett’s last 3 opponents had a combined record of 16-25.

Arnett should consider attempting to get this fight to the mat, but that could be easier said than done. His willingness to sit and trade has got him in trouble over his last 2 fights. Dawodu offers the superior striking arsenal and appears to be the faster fighter. Additionally, the Canadian’s record suggests he is more suited to find deeper in a bout. Either way, Dawodu lights him up on the feet- my prediction is Hakem Dawodu to defeat Austin Arnett by decision.

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155lbs- Kajan Johnson (22-12-1) vs Islam Makhachev (15-1-0)

In the Lightweight division, “Ragin'” Kajan Johnson attempts to extend his winning streak to 5-straight when he meets Russia’s Islam Makhachev. Makhachev has won a trio of bouts since suffering the first loss of his career, he owns wins over Nik Lentz, Chris Wade, and Gleison Tibau. Johnson dropped his promotional debut, but has since earned a 4-pack of wins including a KO of Adriano Martins and a decision win over Stevie Ray.

Johnson is an inch taller, but he will have a lengthy 5-inch reach advantage. Islam is the younger fighter by 7-years.

With a background in Combat Sambo, Makhachev has put together some dominant ground-based performances. Prior to his last win, he had scored a combined 12 takedowns over his 3 victories. Further adding to the effectiveness of his takedown game, he has almost completely shut down his opponents’ ability to do damage.

Including his KO loss to Martins, Islam has been hit just 30-times over 5 total fights.

Kajan Johnson seems to have put his struggles with the company aside and resumed fighting. A crafty veteran Johnson offers a well-rounded attack, capable of winning fights both on the feet and on the floor. The biggest concern or the Canadian has been his chin, suffering 5 knockout losses over his career. During his recent resurgence, he appears to be toning down his aggression and putting more emphasis on defence.

While Johnson was born in British Columbia, he has spent a large portion of his career fighting in Alberta, compiling an impressive 10-4 record.

The deciding factor in this fight will be Johnson’s ability to stay vertical. If he can draw Islam into a striking based contest, he has the skills to edge out a win. Makachev’s striking is improving, but he will still turn back to his takedown-heavy assault and that should be the case here. Johnson is going to struggle to back Islam up as he presses forward looking to control him along the wall and on the mat- my prediction is Islam Makachev to defeat Kajan Johnson by decision.

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205lbs- #14 Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-4-0) vs Ion Cutelaba (13-3-0 1NC)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Russia’s Gadzhimurad Antigulov meets Moldova’s Ion “The Hulk” Cutelaba. Antigulov picked up back to back submission wins over Joachim Christensen and Marcos Rogerio de Lima- he has won 14 consecutive fights after ending a 3 fight losing skid. Cutelaba is coming off a 22-second KO of Henrique de Silva- he is 2-2 inside the Octagon.

This fight was originally scheduled to go down last November, but was scrapped. Ion is 2 inches taller and will have a sizeable 5″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 5-years.

Antigulov has been a wrecking machine, finishing all but 1 of his 20 wins inside the distance- 15 by submission. He has finished 17 opponents in round 1, including both of his UFC victories. Gadzhimurad is a Master of Sport in Freestyle Wrestling. In his debut, Antigulov went for the early takedown and scrambled his way into the guillotine.

Driving on a single leg, once on the mat Antigulov is an aggressive guard passer. He will give up position for submission, but most often gets the finishes he is looking for.

Cutelaba has defended 4 of the 5 takedowns his opponents have attempted. He comes from a Grecco Roman wrestling background and showcased his offensive abilities with 6 completions against Jared Cannonier. Despite his wrestling, Cutelaba has focused mainly on trading bombs on and counting on his chin to hold up.

He has finished 10 opponents by knockout- just 1 in the UFC.

Both men are going to come out looking for the finish, but the numbers indicate that Antigulov needs to get the job done early or risk fading. Cutelaba will utilize his wrestling to defend the early takedown attempts and force Antigulov into some tough spots as he looks to grab onto submission. Once Gadzhimurad starts to fade, Cutelaba will land more impactful strikes and eventually overwhelm- my prediction is Ion Cutelaba to defeat Gadzhimurad Antigulov by TKO/

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155lbs- John Makdessi (15-6-0) vs Ross Pearson (22-14-0 1NC)

The final fight on the prelims features a pair of strikes as Canadian John “The Bull” Makdessi takes on the United Kingdom’s Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson in the Lightweight division. Pearson got a much-needed victory at UFC 221, defeating Mizuto Hirota by decision- he had lost 4 in a row. Makdessi has won 2 of his last 3 fights, besting Abel Trujillo and Mehdi Bagdad while getting knocked out by Lando Vannata in between.

Both men are 5’8″, Pearson will have a 1″ reach advantage. Makdessi is the younger man by a year.

Both men have had a difficult time on the scorecards. Makdessi has won back to back decisions, but lost a few close ones earlier in his UFC career. Pearson currently sits at 8-8 overall and had lost 3 in a row prior to his Hirota win. During his UFC tenure, Pearson is 2-3 in fights ending with a split decision.

This fight should be primarily contested on the feet with both men drawing on their striking backgrounds. Pearson is more of a kickboxing-based fighter while Makdessi relies more on his Taekwondo and Karate background.

Pearson showed sound offensive and defensive tools against Hirota, slipping punches and landing counters. He did get cracked with a hard 1-2 that appear to hurt him. Pearson has been knocked out 4 times.

Makdessi has 9 wins by knockout, with his last coming in 2015 at UFC 186. “The Bull” offers a nice variety of kicking techniques and a stiff jab. Despite his lack of reach and lower stature, his use of angles and footwork allows him to land an then slip out of range. That will be key against Pearson who prefers to sit in the pocket and attack.

Makdessi has landed more strikes than his foe in 10 consecutive fights, but he has only won 6 of them.

Pearson might be best suited to incorporate some takedowns into his attack to both score points and keep Makdessi guessing. The Canadian is the more technically sound striker and he appears to be the more durable fighter as well. Makdessi use of kicks and a strong jab are going to keep Pearson on the outside, limiting his ability to land with consistency. If Pearson pushes forward, Makdessi has the power to put him down- my prediction is John Makdessi to defeat Ross Pearson by TKO.

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125lbs- #3 Alexis Davis (19-7-0) vs #7 Katlyn Chookagian (10-1-0)

Former Bantamweight title challenger, Alexis “Ally-Gator” Davis takes on “Blondefighter” Katlyn Chookagian in the Women’s Flyweight division. Davis made her divisional debut with a split decision rematch victory over Liz Carmouche- she has won 2 in a row. Chookagian is also riding a 2 fight winning streak that includes a split decision over Irene Aldana- she dropped a split decision at UFC 205 to Liz Carmouche.

Both girls formerly competed at Bantamweight, Chookagian is 3 inches taller than Davis- but they share the same 68″ reach. Chook is the younger fighter by 4-years.

Chookagian’s victories have been built around maintaining separation and outworking her foe. She averages 4 significant strikes per minute and landed her UFC best 105 total strikes in her final Bantamweight bout. That being said, she has had issues landing with consistency, throwing strikes but not connecting.

Her TDD has been targeted by her opponents, including Carmouche who landed 4-takedowns on route to a narrow decision victory of Chook.

Davis could look to implement a similar strategy. A BJJ Black belt, with 8 pro submissions- the Strikeforce alumni has shown she can operate on the floor. She is not an overwhelming wrestler, but she knows how to pick up a key takedown when needed. She can also do work in the clinch which is an area that Katlyn has struggled with.

On the feet, Davis will commit to her punches and throws hard leg kicks that will help her with the distance that Chookagian likes to use.

Chookagian has a solid kicking game, but Davis is very good at catching kicks and converting them into takedowns. Once on top, the Canadian should be able to grind up some significant cage time. Look for Alex to also find success pushing Chookagian in the cage and holding here there- my prediction is Alexis Davis to defeat Katlyn Chookagian by decision.

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125lbs- #9 Dustin Ortiz (18-7-0) vs #12 Matheus Nicolau (13-2-1)

Still, in search of his shot at the Flyweight title, Dustin Ortiz takes on Brazil’s Matheus Nicolau. Nicolau has won 6 consecutive bouts, including a pair of noteworthy wins over John Moraga and Louis Smolka. Ortiz has won back to back fights over Alexandre Pantoja and Hector Sandoval and is 3-1 over his last 4 fights.

Nicolau is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. He is the younger man by 5-years.

Ortiz’s success in the UFC has been almost entirely takedown based. He has completed 15 takedowns over his last 4 wins and has completed at least 1 takedown in all but 2 of his UFC contests. Once on the floor, he has decent top control and Dustin is very good in a scramble.

Nicolau boasts a 100% TDD, but he has only faced a trio of attempts over 3 bouts. He is a BJJ Black belt with 4 wins by submission, including a Japanese necktie in his debut.

Against Smolka, his striking looked sharp and he was able to drop Louis on multiple occasions. He will need to find a similar level of success against Ortiz.

Dustin’s defeats have been against elite level grapplers that he couldn’t get the better of on the mat. He carries a steady pace and can be overwhelming when he closes the distances. If Nicolau can maintain the gap, he can outwork Ortiz on the feet- but few have been able to keep Dustin at bay- my prediction is Dustin Ortiz to defeat Matheus Nicolau by decision.

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115lbs- #12 Randa Markos (8-6-0) vs #13 Nina Ansaroff (8-5-0)

In the Strawweight division, Canada’s “Quiet Storm” Randa Markos takes on Nina “The Strina” Ansaroff. Markos has alternated wins and losses over her last 11 fights, including a 4-4 run inside the Octagon- she is coming off a decision win over Juliana Lima. Ansaroff started her UFC career with back to back defeats, but she has since rallied to win consecutive fights over Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger and Angela Hill.

Ansaroff is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. Markos is the older fighter by just a few months.

“The Strina” is coming off of an impressive 143-strike effort in her win over Hill and will look for a repeat performance against Markos. Ansaroff offers a fairly diversified striking attack highlighted by a strong kicking arsenal and solid footwork.

Markos will want this fight contested either along the cage or on the mat. Randa has a good submission game and has landed at least 1 takedown in all but 1 of her UFC bouts. If she can’t drag her foe to the floor, the Canadian will focus on controlling her foe on the cage and land short strikes.

When Randa does trade, she relies primarily on a heavy right hand. While she can do damage, her striking has a tendency to be a little one dimensional.

The key here will be Ansaroff’s distance manage and movement. If she can stay vertical, she has the diversity and volume to get the better of Markos from start to finish. Markos has had success landing takedowns in previous fights, but still lost because she was unable to match her opponent’s striking offence, that will be the case here- my prediction is Nina Ansaroff to defeat Randa Markos by decision (possibly split).

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155lbs- Devin Powell (8-3-0) vs Alvaro Herrera (9-5-0)

The opening fight of the night takes place in the Lightweight division between Devin Powell and TUF: Latin America 2 product Alvaro Herrera. Herrera won his debut by 30-second knockout but has since dropped back to back fights- both by submission. Powell is 0-2 inside the Octagon, losing to Drakkar Klose in his debut and then falling to Darrell Horcher by split decision in his next fight.

Herrera made his Lightweight debut in his last bout- he will have a slight 1″ reach advantage over Powell. They are both 6’0″ tall. Powell is the older man by 2-years.

Both fighters have struggled to remain active since coming to the UFC. Powell fought twice in 2017, but has since sat on the sidelines for roughly 13-months. Herrera has fought once a year and returns to action for the first time in 11-months. Prior to his debut, he had a 3-year layoff.

Herrera has been submitted 3-times and finished in all 5 of his defeats. On the positive side, he has finished each of his opponents before the final bell. He is an all or nothing fighter with questionable cardio.

The American does a decent job of stringing his punches together and out-landed his last foe despite the split decision loss. His low and body kicks appear to be his best weapons. Powell has never been finished and he utilizes a style that is more suited to go deep when compared to Herrera.

Powell did get hurt in the middle frame by Horcher, but Powell rallied in the final frame and came close on a couple of submission attempts.

Herrera throws heat in his right hand, but his poor TDD and below average cardio are very concerning. Powell doesn’t do anything flashy here, but he has more avenues to victory. Powell could simply outwork his foe on route to a decision, finish him with an early submission, or get a late stoppage when Alvaro starts to slow. Herrera needs an early stoppage to leave with a win. Powell will get this fight to the floor and exploit Herrara’s poor mat game- my prediction is Devin Powell to defeat Alvaro Herrera by submission.

 

155lbs- Nick Hein (14-3-0 1NC) vs Damir Hadzovic (11-4-0)

In the top bout on the undercard, Germany’s Nick “Sergeant” Hein takes on “The Bosnian Bomber” Damir Hadzovic in the Lightweight division. Hein suffered a first-round submission loss to Davi Ramos at UFC 224, he had won 3 consecutive decisions prior to the defeat. Hadzovic came to the UFC having won 6 consecutive bouts, he has gone 1-2 in the promotion with his only win coming by 3rd round KO against Marcin Held.

Hadzovic is the taller man by 3 inches and will have a 4″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 2-years.

“The Bosnian Bomber” showcased his stopping power in the final round against Held and he has knocked out 6 men overall. Statistically, he has been shut down inside the Octagon- landing just 45 significant strikes over 7 rounds of action. The primary cause of his struggles have been his TDD- he has relinquished a combined 13 completions over his last 2 fights. Damir tends to wade forward with little focus on defence which has played a significant role in his inability to stay vertical.

Damir is 2-3 in decisions, but he does have a pair of 3rd round stoppage victories.

Hein, a Judo Black Belt, has elected to spend the majority of his UFC tenure on his feet. He averages just .95 takedowns per fight at a 30% completion rate while never having landed more than 2 in a contest. Despite his recent submission loss, Hein remains a durable and tough to finish fighter. He moves in and out of the pocket and fires hard hooks. Unfortunately, the perceived power he throws with has resulted in just a single career win by knockout.

Hein returned to action against Ramos off of a near 2-year layoff- the longest layoff of his career.

Hadzovic throws hard and is the more complete striker, but Hein has the more complete all-around MMA game. If Hadzovic starts finding success with his striking, look for the German to change levels and plant him on the mat. Hein’s durability will allow him to hold his own on the feet between timely takedowns- my prediction is Nick Hein to defeat Damir Hadzovic by decision.

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170lbs- Emil Meek (9-2-1 1NC) vs Bartosz Fabinski (13-2-0)

The penultimate prelim skirmish will pit Norway’s Emil “Valhalla” Meek against Poland’s Bartosz Fabinski. Meek failed to build on his win over Jordan Mein in his debut, falling via decision to the fast-rising Kamaru Usman. Fabinski is 2-0 inside the Octagon with wins over Garreth McLellan and Hector Urbina.

At 6’0″, Fabinski is an inch taller then Meek and will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. Fabinski has not seen action in 32-months.

Meek gained notoriety with his abrupt knockout stoppage of Rousimar Palhares. He has finished 7 opponents by knockout, including 5 in the opening round. His vertical output carried him to victory against Mein, but he got off to a bit of a slow start before rallying to take control of rounds 2 and 3. The glaring stat surrounds his brief UFC tenure has been his below average TDD.

Meek has given up 11 takedowns over 2 fights, including 8 in his loss to Usman.

Fabinski’s 2 UFC performances provide a clear indication that he is capable of capitalizing on Meek’s defensive weakness. Fabinski completed 10 takedowns in his debut performance and 6 more in his win over Hector Urbina. Against Urbina, he came changed levels almost immediately with and planted him on the mat. He has a good base and is difficult to shake off. If his opponent is able to create some separation, the Pole is good in a scramble.

Bartoz has finished 8 opponents by some form of knockout, but just one since early 2014.

Stylistically, this is a brutal matchup for Meek. He has issues staying off his back and Fabinski has a one track mind. Bartosz needs to remain active to avoid giving up the position once earned and hope his pre-layoff cardio doesn’t falter. If Fabinski starts to fade, “Valhalla” will have an opening to rallying, but my prediciton is Bartosz Fabinski to defeat Emil Meek by decision.

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145lbs- Khalid Taha (12-1-0) vs Nad Narimani (10-2-0)

In the Featherweight division, Nad Narimani makes the walk to the Octagon to take on fellow debuting competitor Khalid Taha. While Narimani’s initial debut opportunity was scrapped, he enters the cage on a 3-fight winning streak. Taha won 11 consecutive bouts to begin his career and after suffering his first pro loss last December he rebounded with a submission win to start 2018.

Narimani is an inch taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Taha is the younger man by 5-years and has competed at Bantamweight before. Afer Narimani’s debut fell thew, he has now been on the shelf for 15-months.

Both fighters have solid finishing numbers, Narimani has subbed 5 opponents and knocked out 2 more. Germany’s Taha has recorded 7 wins by knockout to go along with a pair of submission victories. Khalid has stopped 6 foes in the first frame while Narimani has finished just 4 and is coming off a 5-round decision win.

Building on a Muay Thai base, Taha has good power in his hands and keeps an active pace. He is coming off of a submission win, but it is first since late 2014. Khalid is more likely to posture up and land big power from top position. If his opponent attempts to take him down, the German will utilize a front headlock and then transition to knees strikes.

Including a pair of bouts under the RIZIN banner, Taha’s last 3 opponents have a combined record of 38-23. Narimani has spent time in the major UK promotions, with a trio of wins over fighters with a total record of 38-16.

Narimani relies on his takedowns to help him pile up points and set up a potential submission finish. He has had issues getting off to a slow start, before rallying back to score the victory. He has finished a trio of fighters after round 1. Indicative of his slow starts, he is 3-2 on the scorecards with a couple of razor close decisions going either way.

Narimani can stand and trade, but he also has the superior ground game which should be a major factor here. While Taha is dangerous, he is wild and susceptible to being taken down. Nad should find success putting Taha on the mat and grinding out rounds. Look for Taha slow down in the second half and become more susceptible to being taken down and less dangerous on the feet- my prediction is Nad Narimani to defeat Khalid Taha by submission.

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205lbs- Justin Ledet (9-0-0 1NC) vs Aleksandar Rakic (8-1-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division, Aleksandar Rakic welcomes former Heavyweight Justin Ledit to the division. Ledet went 3-0 at Heavyweight which included a decision over Chase Sherman and a submission of Mark Godbeer. Rakic extended his winning streak to 9 straight fights with a debut decision win over Francimar Barosso.

Ledet, a former Heavyweight, stands 6’4″ and is matched by Rakic. Ledet does have a slight 2″ reach advantage. Aleksandar is the younger man by 4-years.

Rakic came out throwing combinations and landing with power against Barosso. Representing his reputation as an aggressive fighter, he maintained good pressure and forced his foe to fight with his back off the cage. Augmenting his hands, his low kicks took away the movement of his foe.

Ledet builds his offence around his boxing background, working behind a solid jab. That being said, he has secured 5 of his 9 wins by submission. Ledet offers a multi-faceted attack, capable of winning a decision or finish his foe both on the mat and standing. In his last fight, he struggled at times with the aggression of his foe and despite consistently landing his jab he failed to follow with anything significant.

The big question surrounding this fight is cut by Ledet down to 205 and how it will impact him. His speed and cardio gave him an edge over most Heavyweights, but he may no longer have that advantage at Light Heavyweight and the cut could further hurt his performance if it goes poorly.

Rakic’s low kicks could play a significant role in this fight against Ledet’s use of a boxing stance. Conversely, if Ledet fights smart he should find success with his grappling attack against a fighter that has been put on his back before. Despite his debut, Rakic has limited experience beyond the first round. This fact will show up against as Ledet, who will force him to work from start to finish- my prediction is Justin Ledet to defeat Aleksandar Rakic by decision

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135lbs- Davey Grant (10-3-0) vs Manny Bermudez (12-0-0)

A rescheduled bout from UFC Fight Night 130 back in May sees the UK’s “Dangerous” Davey Grant finally squares off with UFC sophomore Manny Bermudez. Bermudez submitted Albert Morales in the second round of his promotional debut to remain undefeated. Grant’s last fight was a submission loss to Damian Stasiak- he is 1-2 in the UFC.

Bermudez is 2 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 9-years. Grant has been on the shelf for 21-months.

This bout was formerly set to take place in England which favoured Grant. While the bout will still transpire in the Europe, it would appear that Davey has lost his home field advantage.

With a combined 16 wins by submission, there is a legit chance that this fight is contested and decided on the mat. Bermudez’s submission of choice is the triangle choke, but he has won by several different techniques over his career. He will pull guard and has is very slick when it comes to catching a sub in almost any position.

While Grant is capable of competing on the floor, he might be best served by keeping this fight standing. Bermudez’s striking is still a work in progress and he was struggling against Morales when forced to exchange.

Grant has been taken down in each of his 3 UFC bouts and simply seems too willing to compete on the mat to avoid doing so here. A slow start due to ring rust could get Grant in some trouble against a fighter known for early finishes. As the younger fighter, Bermudez will continue to show improvements in his overall game- my prediction is Manny Bermudez to defeat Davey Grant by submission.Paragraph breaker

205lbs- Jeremy Kimball (15-7-0) vs Darko Stosic (12-1-0)

In the Light Heavyweight division Jeremy “Grizzly” Kimball takes on the debuting Serbian Darko Stosic. Kimball is 1-2 in the UFC, winning his sophomore appearance over Josh Stansbury before suffering a first-round submission loss to Dominick Reyes. Stosic has won 8 consecutive fights dating back to his only pro loss back in 2014.

Both men are 6’0″ taller, but Stosic is the younger man by a year.

The stats suggest that this contest is not going to require the judges. Kimball’s only UFC win was the 11th knockout victory of his career. He has recorded a total of 7 opening round wins to go along with 5 first round defeats. By comparison, Stosic has 7 wins by some form of knockout- ending 7 fight in the first frame.

Stosic is a kickboxer who has spent some time working with Mirko Cro Cop. He throws heavy low kicks and powerful single strikes. He has shown some willingness to take the fight to the floor when needed. Kimball’s submission defence has been a point of vulnerability throughout his career. Stosic has just a single win by tap out.

Kimball is more capable then his physique would suggest. He will throw a variety of kicks and has some pop in his hands. He is quite durable but leaves a lot of defensive gaps when under fire.

Stosic is a big man and if the cut goes poorly, Kimball could overwhelm him and score the finish in the second half of the fight. If not, “Grizzly” is going to get chewed up by the superior striker. Look for the leg kicks of Stosic to play a big role in slowing Kimball down- my prediction is Darko Stosic to defeat Jermey Kimball by TKO.

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135lbs- Damian Stasiak (10-5-0) vs Pingyuan Liu (10-5-0)

The opening fight of the night, Poland’s Damian Stasiak looks to level his UFC record when he takes on the debuting Pingyuan Liu in the Bantamweight division. Stasiak has lost back to back fight since stringing together a pair of UFC wins- he is coming off a TKO loss to Brian Kelleher. After a rough 0-4 start to his pro career, Liu has won 11 of his last 12 fights- including a perfect 4-0 run in 2016 and a pair of victories in 2017.

Pingyuan is the taller man by 3 inches, but they share the same 70″ reach. The Chinese fighter is the younger man by 3-years.

With a just a pair of decision wins, Liu has finished each of his last 7 opponents- 4 by knockout and all but 1 in the opening round. Pingyuan hasn’t faced overwhelming opposition, with a combined record of 20-18. Stasiak is coming off the first stoppage loss of his career. He is 2-4 in fights that go the distance.

Stasiak has a solid submission game, but he has had issues with his TDD. He has been put on his back at least once in all but 1 of his UFC bouts. Offensively, he has taken each of his opponents down totalling 10 over his 5 fights. He has 5 submission wins coming by RNC.

Liu has some decent tools to build his game around, but he is still a developing fighter. Stasiak should find success capitalizing on his aggression, scoring takedowns, and going to work with his submission game. Pingyuan’s lack of long fight experience coupled with the debut factor should give Damian an advantage as the fight advances- my prediction is  Damian Stasiak to defeat Pingyuan Liu by submission.

135lbs- #15 Eddie Wineland (23-12-1) vs #13 Alejandro Perez (22-6-1)

In the headlining fight of the undercard, former WEC champion and UFC title challenger Eddie Wineland returns to action to take on Mexico’s Alejandro “Turbo” Perez in the Bantamweight division. Wineland’s loss to John Dodson snapped a 2-fight winning streak that consisted of a pair of knockouts over Frankie Saenz and Takeya Mizugaki. Perez has won 3 in a row and is undefeated over his last 6, most recently stopping Matthew Lopez via TKO.

Wineland is returning after a nearly 17-month layoff. He is an inch taller than Perez and he will have a 2-inch reach advantage. Perez is the younger fighter by 5-years.

The former WEC champion is a striker by trade with an unorthodox style, but the power to make it work. Wineland incorporates a lot of movement into his attack, slipping in and out of range while looking to avoid his opponent’s offence while landing his own. Wineland has 14 wins by knockout, but he is just 4-5 in fights ending on the scorecards. He is 1-4 over his last 5 fights to go the distance with his only win coming by split decision. Defensively, Wineland hangs his hands low and holds is head high, making him an easy target to land on. He carries a -0.19 striking exchange rate despite relying heavily on his striking attack. Wineland’s opponents have landed more strikes then he has in each of his last 5 outings.

Wineland’s TDD has been solid, defending 85% of his opponent’s attempts while forcing them to face him in his greatest area of strength.

Over his UFC career, Perez has fallen into the bad habit of allowing his opponents to dictate the pace early in fights. He has also been the benefactor of some questionable decisions. Perez likes to sit back and counter strike when his opponent comes forward, this often puts him in a hole if he is unable to land with regulatory. He does his best work when he attacks with hard low kicks, but he needs to do a better job of engaging with his hands. Perez isn’t a major takedown threat and he has been submitted 3-times over his pro  career.

Perez won the Bantamweight tournament on the original TUF: Latin American, earning a pair of decisions in the quarters and tournament final, with a knockout in the semi-finals.

Wineland is unorthodox and at times can underachieve. Perez has a history of winning fights he shouldn’t- both based on per-fight expectations and his performance. Wineland needs to let his hands go, he can’t afford to get stuck on the outside moving and not engaging. The counters are there for Perez to land, but Wineland’s movement is going to make it difficult for him to land with regularity. Wineland has the power to knock him out, but he can also win over a full 15 minutes by landing the more frequent and impactful strikes- my prediction is Eddie Wineland to defeat Alejandro Perez by decision.

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145lbs- #10 Darren Elkins (24-5-0) vs Alexander Volkanovski (17-1-0)

In the Featherweight division, the double tough Darren “The Damage” Elkins put his spot in the rankings on the line against highly touted prospect Alexander “The Great” Vokanovski. Elkins has won 6 consecutive fights, including wins over Mirsad Bektic, Dennis Bermudez and most recently submitting Michael Johnson. Volkanovski is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC, thrashing Canadian Jeremy Kennedy for an impressive TKO stoppage at UFC 221.

At 5’10”, Elkins is 4 inches taller than Alexander but they will have the same 71″ reach. The Aussie is the younger man by 4-years.

At the heart of Volkanovski’s offence is a solid wrestling game and thunderous ground and pound. He has landed 14 takedowns over 4 fights while averaging 5.91 SLpM. Against Kennedy, he did an excellent job of maintaining control while doing significant damage from top position. Overall, he has finished 10 opponents by knockout. He can throw hands with power and does a decent job of punching and changing levels for a TD.

This will be the first fight for Volkanovski state-side after spending the almost all of his career fighting at home in Australia.

Built around durability and pressure, Elkins has won multiple fights based on his ability to withstand the early onslaught of his adversary and then take over in the later stages of the bout. “The Damage” is a grinder. He takedown game is augmented by his ability to simply wear out his opponent. He also showed he can finish, submitted Johnson via RNC. Elkins’ striking isn’t flashing and he gets hit a lot, but similar to his wrestling he just keeps attacking until he gets where he needs to be.

Johnson outlanded him 45-18 and Bektic totalled a sizeable 60-28 total before Darren finished both of them.

Elkins was getting smashed by both Johnson and Bektic before they faltered. Bermudez was having success, but his lack of size and volume allowed Darren to just edge him out. Volkanovski hits hard both on the feet and the mat and is the superior athlete. There is still potential for “The Great” to falter on foreign soil, but instead, he will pour on the offence no matter where the fight goes and not allow Elkins to rally- my prediction is Alexander Volkanovski to defeat Darren Elkins by decision.

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125lbs- Justin Scoggins (11-4-0) vs Said Nurmagomedov (11-1-0)

Justin “Tank” Scoggins looks to find his way in the Flyweight division when he takes on the debuting Said Nurmagomedov. Scoggins is coming off a back to back submission defeats to Ulka Sasaki and Pedro Munhoz- he has won just 2 of his last 6 outings. Nurmagomedov has won 5 consecutive bouts dating back to his only defeat as a pro- a decision loss to current UFC contender Magomed Bibulatov.

Nurmagomedov is an in inch taller, but he will have a 4″ reach advantage- he is making his Flyweight debut. Scoggins has been out of action for almost 13 months due to injury. He made the Flyweight limit in his last fight but has had issues in the past with prompted his short-lived move to Bantamweight.

Scoggins is a talented and diverse fighter. He offers a wide variety of striking techniques, highlighted by a number of kicking attacks thrown from the side stance position. “Tank” can also do work on the mat and has put up some pretty impressive takedown numbers prior to his current 2-fight slump. That being said, a lot of his recent struggles are directly connected to his submission defence. Scoggins has been a strong starter, but he has been subbed in each of his last 3 wins.

Scoggins has landed more strikes then 7 of his 8 UFC opponents- but lost 3 of those fights.

The cousin of the current Lightweight Champion, Nurmagomedov has finished just 5 of his 11 wins- 2 by knockout. Unlike Khabib, Said is a strike first fighter. He will stand at range and throw out a variety of different kicks and spinning attacks. Despite his lack of knockouts, he has some pop and maintains a steady pace. He will look for takedowns if the opportunity presents itself and he can scramble out of bad spots if taken down.

Over his last 3 fights, Nurmagomedov has beat a trio of opponents with very respectable records that combine for an overall mark of 62-18.

Scoggins is a gifted fighter with a lot of tools, but his Fight IQ is a major area of vulnerability. Nurmagomedov is the longer fighter which is an advantage that Scoggins normally enjoys and the Russian offers an equally well-rounded attack. The difference here will be the pace of Nurmangodemov. Said will be the more active fighter, putting up more volume will defending Scoggins attempts to get the fight to the floor- my prediction is Said Nurmagomedov to defeat Justin Scoggins by decision.

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145lbs- Kurt Holobaugh (17-4-0) vs Raoni Barcelos (11-1-0)

In the Featherweight division, 1-time Strikeforce and UFC competitor Kurt Holobaugh makes his way back to the big show when he meets the debuting Raoni Barcelos. Holobaugh went 6-1 in Titan FC before getting the call to the Tuesday Night Contender’s Series where his knockout win over Matt Bessette was eventually overturned due to Kurt’s banned IV use. Barcelos compiled a 5-1 record under the RFA Banner and currently is riding a 4-fight winning streak since suffering the first loss of his career.

The American recently captured the Titan FC Lightweight title and is the taller man by 4 inches to go along with a sizeable 6″ reach advantage. Raoni is the younger man by a year, but he has not fought as a pro in 21-months.

Holobaugh offers a well-rounded finishing record with 5 wins by knockout and 8 victories by submission. He is just 4-4 on the scorecards. Before knocking out Bessette, he was unloading with heavy hands and mixing up his attack between the head and body. With good footwork and head movement, he was slipping Bessette’s offence and countering striking before putting him down with a thunderous right hook. In his 2-fight UFC/Strikeforce run he gave up a combined 4 takedowns, but he appears to have improved his defensive work.

Kurt used an illegal IV to help recover from the weight cut in his last fight which is worth watching as he is a big Featherweight and could struggle if his weight cut doesn’t go well.

Despite finishing 6 of his 11 wins by knockout, Barcelos has just a pair of opening round finishes over his last 9-fights. He packs good power in his hands and throws with intensity. He will both press forward and engage and sit back and counter strike as his opponent comes forward. The counter right hand is capable of ending a fight if it lands flush and he landed a short left hook to stop his last opponent. When attacking, he has a tendency to overextend and get a little wild when looking to make contact. Despite securing just a single submission win, he is an accomplished practitioner.

The Brazilian captured the RFA Featherweight title in 2015 and defended it twice in his final 2 regional bouts before getting the call to the UFC.

This fight has the potential to be an absolute slugfest. Both fighters are willing to throw down and have the type of power that can end a fight with one shot. There are a couple of solid intangibles that favour the American. The size and length of Kurt should allow him to both absorb the shots from his foe and land strikes when Barcelos can’t reach him. He has also been the more active fighter  and if Barcelos has issues with ring rust it will cost him agaisnt a fast starter. Holobaugh can’t get sloppy when attacking and needs to be mindful of the counter takedowns, but my prediction is Kurt Holobaught to defeat Raoni Barcelos by TKO.

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125lbs- #7 Liz Carmouche (10-6-0) vs Jennifer Maia (15-4-1)

In the Women’s Flyweight division, former Bantamweight title challenger Liz “Girl-Rilla” takes on the debuting Invicta Flyweight champion Jennifer Maia. Carmouche made her Flyweight debut with a split decision rematch loss to Alexis Davis- she is 3-3 over her last 6. Maia has won 6 consecutive bouts including winning the Invicta strap and defending it twice.

A former Bantamweight, Carmouche is 2 inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage over Maia. Jennifer is the younger fighter by 4-years.

A product of the Chute Boxe Academy, Maia has just a trio of wins by knockout- but 2 of those triumphs have come during her current 6 fight winning streak. She throws hard and moves forward where she will look to clinch and land knee strikes. Maia has had issues falling behind in bouts. She got off to a slow start in her title-winning performance and in her most recent fight she was dropped in both the first and second round.

Maia has fought 5-rounds in each of her last 3 fights.

Carmouche dropped a close fight to Davis despite landing 4 takedowns and winning the striking battle 49-23. A BJJ Purple belt, Carmouche has leaned heavily on her takedown game. Over her last 6 fights, she has landed a total of 19 takedowns. While her top position striking volume is far from overwhelming, she has solid control and knows how to grind out a decision.

Liz has finished 6 opponent by some form of knockout, but she is just 5-6 in fights where she is unable to stop her foe with strikes.

Maia is aggressive and has some decent pop in her hands, but her TDD and overall work off her back is a major area of concern. If she can force Carmouche to trade with her on the feet, she can win this fight. Convincing Liz to vacate a strategy that she has used consistently almost her entire career is going to be easier said than done. Maia will have her moments on the feet, but ultimately Carmouche will win the positional battle on the cage and floor- my prediction is Liz Carmouche to defeat Jennifer Maia by decision.

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125lbs- Mark De La Rosa (9-1-0) vs Elias Garcia (4-0-0)

In the second fight of the prelims, Mark “The Bumblebee” De La Rosa makes his sophomore appearance when he takes on the debuting Elias Garcia in the Flyweight division. De La Rosa is coming off the first loss of his career, a submission defeat to Tim Elliott- ending his 2017 run with a 2-1 record. Garcia, had a strong amateur career and has parlayed it into 4-0 mark as a professional.

Garcia’s early 2018 win was the first time he fought professionally since 2014. De La Rosa made his debut against Elliott at Bantamweight and is an inch taller, but Garcia will have the 2″ reach advantage.

“The Bumblebee” has secured 5 wins by submission, 4 by RNC. He went for an early guillotine against Elliott and attempted an armbar later in the sequence, but lost the position and spent the majority of the round on his back. He got out scrambled and choked out in round 2. When at his best, he uses his wrestling to set up his submission game. Despite a few first-round finishes from earlier in his career, he has seen a stark increase in fight time including a 2016 5-round decision win.

De La Rosa landed just 4 total strikes in his 6:41 debut fight.

As a pro, Garcia has finished a pair of opponents by knockout and picked up multiple stoppages on the regional scene. He is coming off his first win over an opponent with an above .500 record. He is a capable grappler but is still working to round out his wrestling skills. His striking can be dangerous but lacks the type of depth to be a constant threat at this level. The layoff is concerning, but training out of Rufusports suggests he is working with some solid training partners.

Garcia’s path to the UFC cam via Dana White’s “Lookin’ for a Fight Series”.

Garcia has shown some promise, but Garcia is the more developed and well-rounded fighter. Despite his struggles with Elliott, De La Rosa is quite capable on the mat and he has the wrestling edge in this fight to either take Garcia down or force him to stand. “The Bumblebee” also appears to be the more refined striker, even if Garcia has the edge in striking power. Garcia is still a developing fighter with limited pro experience so it is hard to get a solid read on him, but my predictionis Mark De La Rosa to defeat Elias Garcia by submission.

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115lbs- Jessica Aguilar (19-6-0) vs Jodie Esquibel (6-3-0)

Originally scheduled to take place in June, but scrapped and rescheduled the first of 2 WMMA bouts on the card will feature former top-ranked Strawweight Jessica “Jag” Aguilar meeting promotional sophomore Jodie Esquibel. Aguilar is still looking for her first win in the UFC, she has lost decisions to Claudia Gadelha and Cortney Casey. Esquibel went 4-2 under the Invicta banner before debuting with a loss to former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz via decision.

Both girls are 5’3″, but it will be Jodie with the slight 1″ reach advantage. Esquibel