Preliminary Prediction History

UFC on ESPN 11

155lbs- Bobby Green vs Clay Guida

Making his 29th UFC appearance, 54-fight veteran Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (35-19-0) looks for just his 2nd wins since 2017. Guida’s title contention days are over and his most recent defeat, a submission loss to Jim Miller, knocked “The Carpenter” further down the ranks of the divisional “gatekeepers”.

Guida’s style is well understood at this point. He works a high-paced pressure based offense, looking to close the distance behind erratic movement and score takedowns whenever possible. Unfortunately, Guida’s waning durability has made it more difficult for him to absorb damage while attempting to overwhelm his adversary.

Dating back to 2013, Clay has been finished in each of his last 6 losses- 4 times by submission. He has been tapped out 10 times over his career.

Another fighter struggling to find victories, “King” Bobby Green (25-10-1) has just a single win over his last 7 outings. His struggles have included multiple close decisions that were rendered against the Strikeforce veteran.

Green offers a sharp boxing attack with solid counter wrestling to help him to remain vertical. Where he has struggled, has been with his urgency. Bobby has not secured a finished since his barrage of low blows were ruled a TKO stoppage versus James Krause in 2013.

More concerning, even when Green is able to soundly outland his opponents (142-89 strikes and 3-1 takedowns over his last 2 decision losses), his laid back style does not hold up well on the cards.

This contest will come down to a  clash between Guida’s forward pressure and Green’s boxing. If Clay can routinely force Green to move backward while mixing in some offense, that could be enough to steal a decision. Conversely, Bobby has enough pop in his hands and the overall striking advantage to routinely tag Guida as he moves into range. Green’s recent uptick his output is encouraging, but he has to avoid the prolonged moments of inactivity that will help keep Clay in the fight- my prediction is Bobby Green to defeat Clay Guida by decision.

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115lbs- Tecia Torres vs Brianna Van Buren

Despite having two opportunities in the TUF tournament round of 16, #3 ranked Tecia Torres (10-5-0) was unable get past the quarter-finals. She has come close to contending in the years that followed, but a disastrous 4-fight losing streak has her on the edge of disaster.

Torres has lost to a trio of former champions, but most recently fell via decision Marina Rodriguez.

The “Tiny Tornado” traditionally works a volume-based striking attack while stifling the output of her opponent. More recently, she has struggled to deliver her offense while getting soundly outworked from start to finish.

After capturing the vacant Invicta Strawweight title in a 1-night tournament, Brianna Van Buren (7-2-0) made her UFC debut with a solid win over another former Invicta champion in Livia Renata Souza.

A physical powerhouse, Van Buren comes from a solid wrestling background and is known for her quick level changes and powerful takedowns. She landed 3 in her debut.

Working in conjunction with her takedowns, BVB throws hard combinations does so with pretty consistent volume.

It will be interesting to see how these fighters fair when not having to overcome a massive height and reach disadvantage. Torres will enter the bout with a significant level of desperation as she faces the potential end of her UFC career with a loss. Van Buren offers a superior work rate with more impactful striking and the type of pressure that will shutdown Torres kicking techniques. While finding success on the feet, Brianna will find success with her takedowns at key moments of the contest- my prediction is Brianna Van Buren to defeat Tecia Torres by decision.

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185lbs- Marc-Andre Barriault vs Oskar Piechota

In a battle of competitors desperate for a win, Canada’s Marc-Andre Barriault (11-4-0) takes Poland’s Oskar Piechota (11-3-1). Barriault has lost all 3 of his UFC bouts, including a split decision against Krzystof Jotko.

Barriault is a brawler that wants to drag his opponents into a war and outlast them. “Power Bar” has 8 wins by knockout, 5 in the opening round. Conversely, he is just 3-4 in decisions including a 3-2 record in split decisions.

During his UFC struggles, he has failed to offer enough striking offense in conjunction with his inability to fend off takedowns. He kept the Jotko fight close and mainly on the feet, but still found himself pressed into the cage for prolonged periods of time.

Despite his current 3 fight losing streak, Piechota was able to secure a pair of victories to start his Octagon career. He has split his 10 finishes evenly between knockouts and submissions- 6 in the opening round.

He appeared on route to 3rd win after a strong start against Gerald Meerschaert. A dominant opening round by the BJJ Black belt was undone as he faded and was choked out via RNC.

In his last contest, he got dropped early in the fight, started attacking on the mat, but eventually got smashed along the cage and KOed.

With both fighters having dropped 3 in a row, the loser will most likely be on the outside looking in after the weekend. Piechota has demonstrated he can win at the UFC level, Barriault has yet to do so. If the Canadian can drag Oskar into deep waters or force him to exclusively brawl, he could earn the victory via knockout or decision. Instead, the grappling prowess of Piechota will return to the forefront, exploiting the defensive gaps of Marc-Andre; my prediction is Oskar Piechota to defeat Marc-Andre Barriault by submission.

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125lbs- Cortney Casey vs Gillian Robertson

The 2nd of 4 women’s fights on the card features Canadian Gillian “The Savage” Robertson (7-4-0) looking to rebound from a disappointing outing against Maycee Barber.  “The Savage” has been just that, finishing all 4 of her UFC victories- 3 by submission. She also stopped Hannah Cifers prior to debuting.

An improving striking attack is a secondary aspect of Gillian’s offense. Prior to the Barber fight, she has taken down all of her opponents at least once, including a 3-0 record when landing at least 2 takedowns.

With 5 of her 7 wins coming by submission, Robertson likes to drag her foe to the floor soften them up with ground and pound prior to setting up a fight-ending submission.

Replacing Taila Bernardo, Cortney Casey (9-7-0) is making a 1-month turnaround from her submission victory over Mara Romero Borella. The fight represented a move up in weight class for Casey. She is 2-inches taller than Robertson to go a long with a 4″ reach advantage.

A physical fighter, Casey has finished a trio of opponents in the UFC and 7 of her 9 wins overall.

While she may offer a solid finishing rate,  she is a dismal 2-7-0 in fights that go beyond the 1st round, including 1-2 record in split decisions.

Casey caught Borella off her back for the win. She has traditionally struggled against grapplers with a 1-3 record in fights when giving up at least 2 takedowns. Robertson’s strong ground attack has been her key to victory and she will look to engage Casey early and often on the mat. Baber teed off on Robertson which suggests that if Casey can stay vertical she could do some damage with her hands, but instead, Robertson takes her down, stretch the fight out, and dominates from top position- my prediction is Gillian Robertson to defeat Cortney Casey by TKO.

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155lbs- Frank Camacho vs Justin Jaynes

With Matt Frevola removed from the bout after cornerman Billy Quarantillo tested positive for COVID-19, Frank Camacho is in need of a new opponent with next to no time left on the clock. Taking his shot at the last second opportunity will be the 30-year “Guitar Hero” Justin Jaynes (15-4-0). James currently rides a 4-fight winning streak spanning back to 2018.

The UFC newcomer has not competed in roughly 14-months when he picked up his 7th career knockout. He has finished 12 opponents while carrying a 2-4 record on the scorecards. Earlier in his career, he enjoyed 1 fight showings with both WSOF and Bellator.

Despite lacking any big-name opposition, his last 3 opponents are decently experiences with a combined 33-23 record. They all carry above .500 records.

There isn’t a tonne of footage available on Jaynes, but the current line has him sitting as a +290 underdog.

Camacho is a battled-tested UFC veteran with a pretty solid skill set. From the footage seen, Jaynes is scrappy and will to stand and trade or work from top position if presented with the opportunity. Camacho should be able to prevent the fight from hitting the floor, dragging Jaynes into a firefight and either knocking him or exhausting him- my prediction is Frank Camacho to defeat Justin Jaynes by TKO.

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155lbs- Frank Camacho vs Matt Frevola

With a knockout loss in his debut firmly behind him, Matt “Steamrolla” Frevola has peeled off a 3 fight undefeated streak including wins over Luis Pena and Jalin Turner. He fought Lando Vannatta to a back and forth draw that saw both fighters hurt during the contest.

In his more recent outings, Frevola has utilized a ground-based attack to put his opponents on that mat. That being said, his win over Pena was contentious at best. He was bloodied and spent a large portion of the contest getting cracked at range or fending off submission attempts on the mat.

Against Turner, he had more success throughout the fight largely because Turner started to slow down after opening round.

A member of the TUF 16 cast, Frank Camacho (22-8-0) has struggled to find his footing in the UFC with just 2 victories in 6 fights. Moving between Lightweight and Welterweight, he has secure a trio of Fight of the Night Bonuses.

Easily his best all-around performance came against Nick Hein. He blasted the German with hard body kicks and short counter punches as he moved forward. The finish came after Hein slowed from the body damage and “The Crank” cranked up the output until he crumpled.

Camacho is aggressive which has resulted in 4 losses by knockout, but there is no denying his power with 17 of his 22 wins coming by knockout.

If Frevola can take Camacho down and keep him on the floor, he could grind out a decision. Camacho is pretty solid at getting back up and his ability to pile up damage between TDAs is his key to victory. Look for Frank to utilize the smaller Octagon, corning his foe and forcing him into prolonged striking exhanges. The combination of effective bodywork and overall damage will add up- my prediction is Frank Camacho to defeat Matt Frevola by TKO.

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125lbs- Roxanne Modafferi vs Lauren Murphy

Regardless of the injury factor, Roxanne Modafferi (24-16-0) pulled off an impressive upset win over contender Maycee Barber to continue trading wins and losses over her 6-fight UFC run. She debuted with a title fight loss to short-lived champion Nicco Montano.

Modafferi does her best work when she can muscle her opponent to the ground. She completed 5 takedowns in her upset split decision win over Antonina Shevchenko. If she is unable to secure takedowns, forward pressure and clinch control is her next best option.

Unfortunately, her striking attack still leaves a lot to be desired both in output and impact. She struggled with the more aggressive power punching of Jennifer Maia and prior to the Barber fight, she had been outlanded in 4 of her 5 fights.

Looking to earn her own shot at the title, Lauren Murphy (8-4-0) has won back to back fights and 4 of her last 6. She is coming off a split decision upset of Andrea Lee. Over her last 3 victories, Murphy has won a pair of splits where her opponents landed more overall offense. Her other victory in that stretch came via 3rd round stoppage in a fight she was arguably losing.

Murphy has been involved in a number of close fights and has had issues with opponents that offer a grappling centric attack. She is 1-3 in fights where she gives up at least 1 takedown.

Against Lee, Murph turned the tables with a couple of timely takedowns. She spent the majority of the fight trading in the center of the cage and is normally willing to take her opponent’s best shot to land her own.

Murphy wears a lot of damage during her fights and coupled with her negative striking exchange rate, it can make it difficult for her to get the nod on the scorecards. Roxanne, while a little rough around the edges, is aggressive and that will keep Murph on her back foot for the majority of her fight. Look for Modafferi to secure a couple of key takedowns to augment her forward pressure with just enough volume to get the better of Murphy- my prediction is Roxanne Modafferi to defeat Lauren Murphy by decision.

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155lbs- Austin Hubbard vs Max Rohskopf

In the opening fight of the night, the undefeated Max Rohskopf (5-0-0) makes his debut off the success of a 53-second submission win under the LFA banner. Rohskopf has recorded 5 submission wins, with just his pro debut lasting beyond the first 5-minutes. He is replacing Joe Solecki on less than a week’s notice.

Max is an NCAA Division 1 wrestler and has also competed in grappling competitions. With 4 of his 5 wins coming by rear-naked choke, Rohskopf has a clear affinity for taking, maintaining, and finishing from back mount. He is coming off a submission win over a BJJ Black belt where he transitioned from a controlling front headlock to the fight-ending choke.

He has showcased limited skills on the feet, mainly because he has been so dominant on the mat. He does offer some decent pop in his hands and will work behind a solid jab.

Austin Hubbard (11-4-0) has faced a pair of high ranking grapplers, BJJ elite Davi Ramos and Olympic wrestler Mark Madsen. While he survived the full 15-minutes with both adversaries, he gave up a combined 11 takedowns.

In his lone UFC victory, he turned the tables on his opponent with a trio of his own takedowns leading to a decision win. Hubbard is a scrappy fighter that maintains a pretty solid pace on the feet.

Hubbard has a noteworthy advantage in overall experience and quality of opposition. He also has a lot of long fight experience with a trio of 5 rounds fights including an LFA Lightweight title win.

If Hubbard can survive the opening exchanges, he could very-well exploit a fighter that is taking this fight on short notice with no experience beyond the opening round. Rohskopf’s wrestling background suggests he may not fade in a longer fight and will be able to continue to score takedowns as the fight advances. The UFC newcomer rises to the occasion, grounds Hubbard routinely, and eventually locks up the choke- my prediction is Max Rohskopf to defeat Austin Hubbard by submission.

UFC on ESPN 10

140lbs- Merab Dvalishvili vs Gustavo Lopez

Heading down the Fight week home stretch, Ray Borg has been forced out of his scheduled main card bout with Merab Dvalishvill (10-4-0). In his place, Combate Americas Bantamweight champion Gustavo Lopez (11-4-0) takes the shot notice assignment which will be contested at a catchweight.

An equal opportunity finisher, Lopez has split his 10 finishes evenly. He is 1-2 in decisions with a pair knockout losses, including a 2018 KO versus Andre Ewell. A native of Washington, Lopez comes from a solid wrestling background and will use it to set up his submissions.

Gustavo can do some serious damage with his boxing. He moves well and throws compact punches. He recently avenged a split decision loss with a resounding first-round knockout. Lopez pumps his left jab and will follow with a hard right hook. In his last contest, he moved forward to clinch, step backed knocked his foe cold with a heavy right hook.

Merab’s approach is fairly simple- chain takedowns together, strikes in between wrestling barrages, and outwork his opponent everywhere.

He has put up astronomical takedown numbers and while he has had issues maintaining top control, his worth ethic and pace make up for it.

While he is active on the feet, he tends to get a little wild and reckless with his techniques. His willingness to create chaos further augments his wrestling as it creates multiple offensive fronts that his opponent is forced to deal with.

Coming in on 2 days notice is an unreal tall order. Doing so against a cardio machine in Merab makes it even tougher. The Combate Americas Champ may need to find the mark early or risk getting ground into oblivion. If Dvalishvili can routinely drag him to the floor, he could tire him out for a decision or finish. Lopez has solid punching power and he is quick to the mark. If he can fend off the takedowns or get back up, look for him to capitalize on the Dvalishvili’s defensive gaps. In an unexpected and probably unpopular upset- my prediction is Gustavo Lopez to defeat Merab Dvalishvili by TKO.

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125lbs- Mariya Agapova vs Hannah Cifers

Visa issues scrapped Melissa Gatto’s participation in this bought, but enter Hannah “Shockwave” Cifers (10-5-0). Cifers is just 2 weeks removed from her submission loss to Mackenzie Dern and will have just a week to prepare. Cifers fought Dern at 115 pounds, so she will have 10 fewer pounds to cut.

Cifers is primarily a striker and many of her opponents have authored a grappling centric attach as a result. Her loss to Dern was the second submission of her career. She has also been finished via GNP TKO twice as well.

With 5 knockout wins, “Shockwave” does have some pop in her hands. She dropped Polyana Viana to turn that fight in her favour.

Debuting at just 23-years of age, Mariya Agapova (8-1-0) secured back to back first-round finishes fighting for Invicta FC after a 3 round decision loss to Tracy Cortez on the Contender Series.

A native of Kazakhstan, American Top Team’s Mariya has split her 6 finishes evenly, ending 4 fights in frame 1. She will have a massive 8″ reach advantage and will stand 7-inches taller than Cifers.

Building on a boxing background, she works well from distance. Lancing forward with punching combinations and throwing a leaping kick to the body or head. She will step into the pocket to swing and can be hit. On the floor, she offered an impressive back take leading RNC win and heavy GNP stoppage in her last fight.

Agapova is young, talented, and a little awkward but effective in her striking style. She lost to Cortez on the mat which won’t be an issue here. Cifers can strike, but the length of her foe is going to be a massive concern. Unless Mariya tires or gets reckless and clipped, Cifers will be hardpressed to find offense. Look for the newcomer to push a solid pace, land at range against Hannah, and potentially mix in some well-time grappling- my prediction is Mariya Agapova to defeat Hannah Cifers by submission.

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155lbs- Kevin Aguilar vs Charles Rosa

Moving up a weight class “Boston Strong” Charles Rosa (12-4-0) looks to rebound from a one-sided decision loss to Bryce Mitchell. Rosa has traded wins and losses since debuting in the UFC as an undefeated fighter. He was completely shutout by the grappling offense of Mitchell and was stuck on his back against Manny Bermudez before snatching an armbar.

A BJJ Black belt, Rosa has 8 wins by submission, including 2 in the UFC. Rosa found early success with his takedowns, securing 13 over his first 4 fights. More recently, he has struggled with just a single completion compared to 4 takedowns given up.

Rosa is a decent striker and has put up some solid volume during his career. He hasn’t showcased a lot of power, but he is durable with just a single knockout loss. He utilizes a sideways stance, throwing a lot of front leg techniques.

“The Angel of Death” Kevin Aguilar (17-3-0) suffered an equally as definitive defeat in his last feet. Lasting just under 3:30, he was TKOed by Zubaira Tukugov. He has now lost back to back bouts after ending his 9-fight winning streak.

Primarily a striker, Aguilar has recorded 10 wins by knockout. At the UFC level, he has yet to showcased his finishing skills- going the distance in both wins. The knockout loss to Zubaira was just the 2nd of his career.

In Aguilar’s first 3 fights he demonstrated impressive takedown defense, defending 15 of 16 attempts. Against Rosa, his ability to stay vertical will be crucial to his success. He will have a 4″ reach will aid him in maintaining distance.

Rosa is solid on the mat, but his recent inconsistency with his takedowns coupled with Aguilar’s strong TDD suggests this fight will be mainly contested on the feet. There is the potential that Charles rocks “The Angel of Death” and either gets the finish or rides the momentum to a decision. Instead, Aguilar will land the more consistent striking, boxing his way through Rosa’s kicking offense with a more active and impactful attack- my prediction is Kevin Aguilar to defeat Charles Rosa by decision.

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135lbs- Julia Avila vs Gina Mazany

Debuting at UFC 239 with a decision win over Pannie Kianzad, Julia Avila (7-1-0) extended her current streak to 3 consecutive victories. The 15-minute triumph did end her run of finishes with a trio of stoppage wins- including a pair of knockouts. Her only loss came via injury.

Starting strong, Avila was firing some hard knees and elbows early in the clinch against Pannie. At distance, she was landing hard straight punches down the middle and backing her foe up. Her left jab is solid and she will swing a hard right hook.

Her cardio appears to be solid, holding up despite her constant forward pressure. She hurt Pannie badly in round 3 and owns a 5-round win over Nico Montano.

Gina Mazany (6-3-0) is getting a return call to the UFC after just a single victory on the regional scene. During her first stint, she went 1-3 with losses to Sara McMann, Lina Lansberg, and Macy Chiasson.

Mazany’s lone UFC win came with a strong takedown performance, landing 5 completions on 7 attempts.

The return engagement is a short notice opportunity for Mizany who took her last fight on at 155-pounds.

Mazany has faced very good competition, but she has routinely come up short and been finished multiple times. Avila is the vastly better striker and offers some solid pop in her hands. Gina needs to find consistent success with her takedowns or else she will struggle to score points anywhere else in this fight. Avila will force Mazany to stay vertical and go to work on the feet- my prediction is Julia Avila to defeat Gina Mazany by TKO.

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125lbs- Zarrukh Adashev vs Tyson Nam

With a pair of losses over his first 2 UFC walks, Tyson Nam (18-11-1) is in a must-win situation. His 2013 upset of then-Bellator champion Eduardo Dantas propelled him into the deep end of competition and resulted in an immediate 4-fight skid. Prolonged success on the regional scene resulted in a call to the UFC.

Nam has power, 10 of 18 wins by knockout- but he often has trouble deploying it. A willing counter striker, Nam routinely lets his opponent dictate the pace of exchange. In his 2 UFC bouts, he has been outlanded a combined 174 strikes to 90.

He is a concerning 7-8-1 in decisions which is indicative of his counter heavy approach.

With Ryan Benoit removed from competition, UFC newcomer Zarraukh Adashev (3-1-0) of Uzbekistan gets the call on short notice. After losing his MMA debut in 2015, Adashev took some time away only to return in 2018 and pick up a trio of wins- 2 by knockout.

All 3 wins came under the Bellator banner. Despite a brief MMA career, Adashev is a talented kickboxer with a 16-3-0 including competing with Glory Kickboxing. While fighting in Bellator, his trio of opponents have a combined record of 3-7 with just 1 fighter accounting for all 3 wins.

Adashev throws aggressive multi-punch combos and will dig to the body. Look for him to end his barrages with hard low kicks reflective of his background. He is also willing to utilize throws and takedowns to put his opponent on the floor.

From an MMA perspective, Nam is by far the most experienced fighter that Adashev has faced. Zarrukh’s aggressive forward push will give Nam plenty of opportunities to land his counter strikes. Conversely, if Nam can’t land anything significant he will struggle to match the output of Adashev. The short notice debut for a relatively inexperienced MMA fighter is a risk, but Adashev relies on his striking background to outwork his foe- my prediction is Zarrukh Adashev to defeat Tyson Nam by decision.

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145lbs- Jordan Griffin vs Darrick Minner

Under the LFA banner, Jordan Griffin (18-7-0) and Darrick Minner (24-11-0) met in 2018. Griffin secured a 2nd round submission victory.

Starting his UFC tenure against a pair of talented competitors resulted in back to back losses, but Griffin has since rebounded with a come from behind submission win over T.J. Brown.

Griffin is an offensive first fighter which has resulted in 14 career finishes. He has also been finished 3 times, twice by submission. Against Brown, he was rocked early and gave up 7 takedowns. He has given up 11 takedowns over just under 8 rounds of competition.

An opportunistic grappler, “The Native Psycho” secured an unusual guillotine against Brown once he started to get tired. On the Contender Series, he rocked his foe before catching the RNC.

With a career built around grappling, 35-fight veteran Darrick Minner has submitted his foe in 21 of 24 pro victories. He has also been submitted 8-times- including his UFC debut, Contender series loss to Herbert Burns, and aforementioned meeting with Griffin.

With 21 first-round wins, Minner is a fast started and will look to initiate the grappling exchange right away. Against Dawson, he “machine gun” chained submission attempts together, including multiple guillotine attempts.

Minner is 4-6 outside of round one which suggests a limit window for success.

In their first meeting, with Minner attempting to secure a potential calf slicer before Griffin snatched his arm for the tap. Minner dominated the fight; taking Jordan down, taking up his back, and attempting a couple of submissions. Despite continuing to dominate in round 2, Minner appeared to tire and gave up the sub late in the round.

Minner dominated their first engagement and Griffin still appears to be susceptible to the same type of grappling heavy attack. Conversely, Darrick’s submission defense remains just as vulnerable. Griffin could again secure a finish, especially if Minner starts to fade. That being said, Minner was dominant in that fight and should learn from the experience. Look for a fast start with Minner scoring the early takedown and chaining submissions together, but this time he locks it up- my prediction is Darrick Minner to defeat Jordan Griffin by submission.

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170lbs- Christian Aguilera vs Anthony Ivy

After temporarily getting tapped to replace Ian Heinisch and fight Gerald Meerschaert on short notice, Anthony Ivy (8-2-0) gets the call to make his promotional debut. Ivy will be competing at Welterweight where he regularly fights.

He has finished 5 straight opponents while mainly competing under the Fury banner. Early in his career, he saw action ins LFA and Bellator.

In recent action, Ivy’s focus was on taking his opponent down, holding position, and eventually delivering enough damage to force a referee stoppage. Overall, he has finished 5 opponents by TKO and 3 by submission. “Aquaman” has never gone the distance, but his last win came in the 4th round.

Also making his debut, “The Beast” Christian Aguilera (13-6-0) has won back to back fights including a decision win with LFA at the start of 2020. Of his 13 pro wins, 10 have come via knockout- with all 10 occurring in the opening frame. He has also been knocked out 4-times.

“The Beast” will stalk forward, landing a jab and throwing heavy power punches behind. In his last knockout under the LFA banner he survived with a BJJ practitioner on is back during round 1 and landed a dirty fight-ending uppercut.

Aguilera will use a lot of forward pressure and has been rocked in recent action. If he ties up with his foe, look for him to use a trip to attempt to dump them on the floor.

Under normal circumstances, this fight is most likely on a Contender Series’ event. Aguilera hits hard and can finish, but his limit experience outside of the opening round is concerning. Ivey is the longer fighter and appears to offer superior cardio. “Aquaman” should be able to neutralize the power of his foe using his length and takedowns. As the fight advance, Ivy lets the genie out of the bottle and batters his faded foe- my prediction is Anthony Ivy to defeat Christian Aguilera by TKO.

UFC 250

145lbs- Alex Caceres vs Chase Hooper

The entertaining Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres (15-12-0 1NC) headlines the undercard fresh off a win over Steven Peterson. He has traded wins and losses over his last 6 fights. Caceres has a history of close fights; he is 4-3 in split decisions.

The TUF alumni throws a variety of kicks and flowing offense. He doesn’t possess one-punch knockout power, but he can put enough volume together to do damage especially if he gets them back up to the wall. In the majority of his wins, he usually puts up solid volume while limiting his opponent’s offense.

“Bruce Leeroy” is a capable grappler and good scrambler, but also quite vulnerable. He has been submitted on multiple occasions, including 2 of his last 3 defeats.

In his sophomore appearance, Chase Hooper (9-0-1) will look to build on his impressive start. Against David Teymur, he threw an early strike and shot almost immediately. Hooper will pull guard, dive on a leg, or take his opponent’s back- anything to generate a grappling exchange.

At 6’1″, Hooper is 3 inches taller than Caceres to go along with 1″ reach advantage. Hooper is the younger man by 11-years.

Hooper is not a strong striker and ate some big shots from Teymur early before getting on the inside.

Caceres should have a marked advantage on the feet, but he lacks the power to keep Hooper at bay. Alex is simply too willing to engage on the mat to avoid Hooper’s aggressive grappling onslaught. Caceres’ length has traditionally aided him on the mat, but against Hooper he won’t have the edge in that department. Hooper forces the grappling exchange, works to a dominant position, and either sets up the submission or lands brutal GNP- my prediction is Chase Hooper to defeat Alex Caceres by submission.

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185lbs- Ian Heinisch vs Gerald Meerschaert

A positive COVID test for one of Ian Heinisch’s (13-3-0) coaches temporarily forced “Hurricane” from the card. Replaced by Anthony Ivy, Ivy has now be pulled from the fight and Heinisch reinserted after the test was ruled a false positive.

Heinisch’s back to back UFC wins and 5-fight winning streak has given way to a pair of tough decision defeats.

Defensively, there are some crack’s in Heinisch’s game. He has been taken down multiple times in each of his fights, accounting for 11 overall. Over his last 2 bouts, he gave a combined 134 significant strikes and ate some big power shots from Omari Akhmedov.

“Hurricane” is a willing combatant and will engage anywhere the fight goes. In his first 2 fights, he benefited from his opponents slowing down, pulling away as the bout advanced.

Milwaukee-based veteran Gerald Meerschaert (30-12-0) is coming off an upset submission win of Deron Winn. It was his second win over his last 3 with a questionable split decision loss in the middle. “GM3” has finished his opponent in all 6 of his UFC victories with both of his decision losses coming via split.

Meerschaert is a capable striker, but his primary focus is on getting his opponent to the mat where he can utilize his battle-tested grappling skills. He has been submitted 8 times in 42 bouts, he has also secured an impressive 22 submission victories.

Never out of a fight, Gerald has a couple of come-from-behind wins on his record. Against Winn, it was a back and forth fight with GM3 getting hurt in the third before rocking Winn and eventually submitting him.

Heinisch has some power and “GM3” can be hit, but he is durable. Ian needs to avoid the mat at all cost, stay standing, and pick away at his foe. The reach advantage and reliance on kicks will aid for Meershchaert in the exchanges, but his best opportunities will come on the mat. Heinisch is too vulnerable to takedowns and GM3 is lethal on the floor, especially when Ian starts to slow down- my prediction is Geral Meerschaert to defeat Ian Heinisch by submission.

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145lbs- Brian Kelleher vs Cody Stamann

Back to back wins and less than a month turn around for Brian “Boom” Kelleher (21-10-0) has the New York native back on the right track. For his second straight contest, Kelleher entered the cage as the underdog and took home finish victory.

Against Hunter Azure, “Boom” effectively targetted the body with hooks and front kicks while pushing a pace that clearly taxed his foe. While Brian ate some big shots along the way, he eventually found the mark for his 8th career knockout.  Conversely, his offense-first approach has resulted in 7 of his 10 losses coming by finish- 6 by submission.

Despite scoring the finish, Kelleher absorbed a lot of damage and was behind in striking stat count by a ratio of nearly 2:1. He has given up more strikes than he has landed in 4 of his 5 Octagon triumphs.

Riding 2-fight unbeaten streak, Cody Stamann (18-2-1) was on the wrong end of a peculiar decision that many felt he won straight up, but even after his opponent was docked a point- the fight ended in a draw. At 4-1-1 in the promotion, Cody has faced a nice mix of veterans and developing prospects- only falling to Aljamain Sterling.

Stamann offers a nice combination of power punching, solid wrestling, and a capable grappling attack. While owning a strong record on the scorecards, he is 2-1 in split decisions including the majority draw against Song Yadong.

Not a high volume striker, Stamman does a solid job of limiting his opponent’s offense to magnify his own. He does his best work when he can land takedowns to augment his striking.

Kelleher’s quick turn around and recent upsets will give him confidence coming into this bout. For Stamann, he does an excellent job of shutting down his opponent’s offense, and with “Boom” already carrying a negative striking exchange rate- that will give Stamann a big edge on the feet. Cody will prevent Kelleher from landing takedown to further diminish his offense. Brian may very well need a finish. Fighting at Featherweight will be less taxing on Stamann’s muscle heavy frame as he lands more frequently and scores a few key takedowns- my prediction is Cody Stamann to defeat Brian Kelleher by decision.

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185lbs- Charles Byrd vs Maki Pitolo

In the opening fight of the televised prelims, Charles Byrd (10-6-0) attempts to secure his first UFC win since his debut. Byrd has suffered back to back TKO losses to Edmen Shahbazyan and Darren Stewart- he submitted John Phillips in his first UFC fight. He has been finished in 4 of his 6 defeats.

Against Phillips, “Kid Dynamite” went for the takedown at the early onset of the fight, eventually submitting the grappling deficient Phillips. He attempted a similar start against Stewart and Shahbazyan, with no success. As a pro, he has 5 wins by submission.

Fighting out of Fortis MMA, Byrd throws a solid overhand right and has a kickboxing background. Before getting knocked out, he was winning the majority of the striking exchanges at range and in the clinch against Darren Stewart.

Debuting in enemy territory, Hawaiian Maki Pitolo (12-5-0) was unable to overcome Aussie Callan Potter- dropping a decision. While Pitolo debuted at Welterweight against a natural Lightweight he is moving up to Middleweight for this bout.

Known as “Coconut Bombz”, the heavy-handed islander has recorded 6 knockouts including a first-round stoppage on the Contender Series to warrant the call to the big show.

Maki effectively varies his striking, attacking both the body and head. He appeared to rock Potter early but also got stung a couple of times and began to slow as the fight progress. He gave up multiple takedowns that sealed his fate.

Byrd was beating Stewart before getting finished which will be a major concern here as well. Pitolo has some pop and he throws decent volume. If he can land with regularity he could put his opponent down. If Pitolo tires before getting the finish or can’t fend off Charles’ takedowns, his striking offense will be a non-factor. Byrd will utilize his size in the clinch to wear on his foe, land a few takedowns, and connect on distance strikes once Maki slows- my prediction is Charles Byrd to defeat Maki Pitolo by submission.

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125lbs- Jussier Formiga vs Alex Perez

Serving as a stepping stone for immediate title contention for a number of fighters, Jussier Formiga (23-7-0) appeared on the cusp of his own title opportunity with a 4 fight winning streak. Despite capping his run off with a win over the next potential champion- back to back losses have stunted Jussier run.

The Brazilian is a talented grappler with a lethal back mount. Once Jussier is able to establish ground control he is difficult to get out from under.

Where Formiga has struggled has been when he is unable to find consistent success with his ground attack. Despite improving his striking, he is still very ground reliant. He is 0-4 when he lands zero takedowns and has lost each of his last 2 bouts when limited to just a single completion.

A former All-American wrestler, Alex Perez (23-5-0) has been taken down just once in his UFC tenure compared to 11 completions of his own. He is coming off of his first submission victory since his time on the regional scene- he has recorded 7 overall.

Despite his reliance on the ground, Perez has been submitted 3-times- all early in his career.

Arguably his best performance in the UFC was Perez’s only fight in which he did not complete a takedown. Against Jose Torres, Perez went off with an impressive onslaught- he landed 84 significant strikes in under 4-minutes prior to getting the knockout.

Formiga has struggled with fighters that can avoid going to the mat with him, but Perez has relied heavily on his ability to score takedowns. If he can’t take Formiga down or gets out-positioned on the floor that will take away a key aspect of Alex’s offense. Formiga will have success on the feet and his well-timed counter takedowns and tricky grappling will give Perez fits. Formiga puts the wrestler in some bad positions at some key moments- my prediction is Jussier Formiga to defeat Alex Perez by decision.

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205lbs- Devin Clark vs Alonzo Menifield

In the heaviest fight on the card, undefeated Alonzo Menifield (9-0-0) has not seen the 2nd round of a fight since late 2017. He has finished all 9 of his opponents, 8 of by knockout and 7 in the opening round.

Menifield is a strong athlete with impressive power, but it is worth noting that his 2 UFC victims have seen knockouts account for 6 of their combined 8 defeats.

The former football player will fire a beastly straight left, right hook combination with fight-ending potential. He does load up on his punches which raises some questions about his ability to maintain his performance in a prolonged battle.

Owning as many UFC fights as his adversary has pro bouts, Devin Clark (11-4-0) has traded wins and losses over his last 7 outings. He is coming off a decision win over Dequan Townsend, with his 5 UFC victories coming over opponents with a combined 6-16 record.

“Brown Bear” is a solid athlete with decent punching power and serviceable wrestling, but he appears to be stuck in a pattern of securing a victory, getting a step up in competition, and promptly finished.

A National Junior College All-American and champion wrestler, Clark’s takedowns have been a key element of his success. Over his last 4 UFC wins, he has completed 16-takedowns compared to just 3 over his 4 losses.

Menifield has the power and aggressive striking front to take Clark out. Conversely, in Alonzo’s first Contender’s bout, he had some issues with his opponent’s wrestling heavy attack- only saved by a referee standup. He was able to outmuscle his last 2 opponents, but Clark should be able to match his physicality. Look for Clark to utilize a clinch heavy attack, landing takedowns, and tiring out an opponent with minimal experience outside of round 1- my prediction is Devin Clark to defeat Alonzo Menifield by decision.

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150lbs- Herbert Burns vs Evan Dunham

In the opening fight of the night, Evan Dunham (18-8-1) officially ends his retirement to make his return to the Octagon. Dunham is winless in his last 3 fights with back to back TKO defeats and draw against Beneil Dariush. Prior to the Dariush bout, Dunham experience a resurgence with a 4-pack if victories.

At his best, the American combines an aggressive pressure striking offense with solid grappling skills. He completed 10 takedowns during his 4-fight winning streak.

Evan’s willingness to absorb damage in order to deliver his own has taken a toll on his body. He has been finished in each of his last 4 defeats including a trio of TKO brought about by effective body strikes.

Looking to build on the momentum of his brother’s recent main event victory and his own successful debut, Herbert Burns (10-2-0) get’s his second UFC opportunity.

A vaunted BJJ practitioner, Burns instead showcased his stopping power with a first-round knockout of Nate Landwehr. It was the first knockout win of his career to go along with 7 submission wins.

Burns is willing to work off his back and will pull guard to get the fight to the floor. In his final contender’s bout, he took some damage on his back before catching the fight-ending sub.

Dunham is closing in on 40-years of age and has been out of action for nearly 24-months. His lack of durability is a major concern as his well-known vulnerability to the body. Burns’ top-level BJJ should prevent Dunham from finding success on the mat, unless Herbert tires and starts to pull guard. Look for the aggressive Brazilian to walk Dunham down- tagging him to the body with a front kick or body punch before locking up a sub on stunned foe- my prediction is Herbert Burns to defeat Evan Dunham by submission.

UFC on ESPN 9

125lbs- Katlyn Chookagian vs Antonina Shevchenko

Attempting to rebound from her title fight defeat and extract a measure of revenge against a sibling of the title challenger, Katlyn Chookagian (13-3-0) will make her first post-title fight appearance.

Katlyn put together a 4-1 run at Flyweight to earn a shot at the title before suffering the first stoppage loss of her career. She had previously gone the distance in 8 straight fights and 10 of 11.

A primarily striking based fighter, Chookagian likes to work from the outside and utilize her volume and movement. She has had issues with her connection rate, often short arming her techniques. This has raised some questions regarding the success of her offense and resulted in 1-2 record in split decisions and multiple other contentious scorecards.

The older sister of the dominant champion, Antonina Shevchenko (8-1-0) suffered a split decision loss to Roxanne Modafferi in her sophomore outing before rebounding with the first submission victory of her career against Lucie Pudilova.

Also building on a strong striking background, Shevchenko appears to be adding in a grappling element to her offense.

Prior to submitting Pudilova, she brutalized her in the clinch with hard knees to the body. Antonina demonstrated improved TDD and counter into superior grappling positions before locking up the RNC for the win.

Chookagian is entering her post-title fight letdown scenario. She will need to find some form of motivation heading into this fight and battling the sister of the champ could do that. Shevchenko’s undoing has been her defensive wrestling, but she has proven herself quite dangerous in that area and Katlyn has not put too much focus on takedowns in her attack. Look for Antonina to utilize the clinch to control the movement of her foe and batter her multiple ranges- my prediction is Antonina Shevchenko to defeat Katlyn Chookagian by decision.

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150lbs- Spike Carlyle vs Billy Quarantillo

In a catchweight contest, the “Alpha Ginger” Spike Carlyle (9-1-0) makes his sophomore appearance in the UFC. Spike scored an 85-second upset TKO victory over Aalon Cruz in February. He has won 6 consecutive bouts, including a trio of consecutive first-round TKO wins.

Carlyle overcame a significant reach and height disadvantage to land a big head kick and multiple short-range clinch strikes to eventually fell and finish Cruz. He will have a slight reach advantage in this bout.

Outside of the UFC, the “Alpha Ginger” has been known for maintaining an aggressive mixture of wrestling and powerful striking attack.

Billy Quarantillo had an equally successful debut, submitting Jacob Killburn in the middle round of his December contest. He has won 6 in a row, including a third-round TKO stoppage on the Contenders series.

Quarantillo has split his 10 finishes evenly with 7 stoppages coming in round 2 or beyond. He came out extremely aggressive in his debut; clinching, dragging his foe to the floor, hard ground and pound, while attempting multiple submissions.

Capitalizing on some poor decision making by his opponent, the TUF alumni caught an early-round 2 kick and to return the fight to the mat for a barrage of mounted GNP and eventual finish.

With this bout getting bumped to the main card, the spotlight will be even more intense for a fight that could earn some bonus money. Quarantillo dominated every minute of his debut, but he will face a tougher test this time around. Carlyle has the gas tank to match him and the Judo/BJJ/wrestling to defend and potentially attack Billy on the mat. Carlyle also has the power advantage on the feet against his hard-charging foe. Spike capitalizes on the aggression with well-timed takedowns and counter strikes- my prediction is Spike Carlyle to defeat Billy Quarantillo by TKO.

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205lbs- Klidson Abreu vs Jamahal Hill

Brazil’s Klidson Abreu (15-4-0) is coming off of a tough split decision loss that dropped his Octagon mark to 1-2. He debuted on a 6-fight winning streak.

A talented BJJ practitioner, Abreu has recorded 10 wins by submission- but none in the UFC. He has a solid takedown game, timing his opponent’s forward push and changing levels.

He has spent the majority of his UFC time on the feet, throwing hard kicks and power punches. He had success on the feet against Sam Alvey and overall seems comfortable exchanging on the feet.

A graduate of the Contender series, Jamahal Hill (7-0-0) took a decision over Darko Stosic in his debut. A physically gifted fighter, Hill will stand 4-inches taller than his opponent and will have 5″ reach advantage.

A creative striker, Hill mixes in punching combinations, stepping knees, and a variety of kicks. His movement is fluid, bouncing in and out of range. he was getting cracked by Darko as he tends to hold his hands low, but his distance management helps to keep him out of danger.

Stosic found some success with his takedowns, landing 6 throughout the fight, but Hill was able to routinely get up.

Klidson has a clear path to victory in this fight. Hill’s TDD appears a little suspect and if Abreu takes him down he can submit him or grind out a decision. Unfortunately, Abreu is too willing to stand and trade and that will get him into trouble. Hill is the more varied striker and his speed and length will make it difficult for Klidson to land with regularity. Hill picks him apart on the feet and the damage piles up as the fight advances- my prediction is Jamahal Hill to defeat Klidson Abreu by decision.

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125lbs- Tim Elliott vs Brandon Royval

Former title challenger Tim Elliott (15-10-1) has experienced ups and downs in the UFC career and appears to be in downswing entering into this bout. Losing back to back bouts and 3 of 4, this fight is a must-win.

Favouring a wrestling heavy attacked, Elliott has taken down all but 2 of his UFC opponents. Unfortunately, Tim’s time on the floor has produced mixed results. He has been submitted 4-times in his career including 2 of his last 3 setbacks.

Elliott is traditionally the taller/ longer fighter but that won’t be the case here. He is the shorter man by 2-inches and will give up 2-inches of reach.

A capable submission fighter, Brandon Royval (10-4-0) has tapped our 6 opponents, including UFC vet Joby Sanchez. He has just a single loss over his last 6-fights; a 5-round LFA title fight decision loss to Casey Kenney. He fought Kenney on 2-weeks notice.

Against Kenney, Royval demonstrated impressive submission defense- fending off multiple tight sub attempts throughout the fight.

In more recent action, Royval stormed out of the gates with a flying knee and started chaining submissions together leading to a 23-second armbar submission.

The UFC newcomer is making his debut on short notice and taking on an incredibly experienced opponent. Elliott is the better wrestler by far which is important in order for him to negate the grappling of Royval. But, if Tim gets too aggressive or sloppy, he could find himself in tight submission early. Conversely, Elliott’s cardio and non-stop pace will be too much for his foe who most likely start to fade due to his lack of camp time- my prediction is Tim Elliott to defeat Brandon Royval by decision.

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135lbs- Casey Kenney vs Louis Smolka

After gaining momentum in the Flyweight division, an increase in competition including a pair of title challengers, resulted in a 4-fight losing streak and the eventual dismissal of Louis Smolka (16-6-0) from the UFC. He has since won 5 of his last 6 fights including a 2-1 record in his return to the UFC.

At Bantamweight, Smolka utilizes an aggressive onslaught of transition grappling and underrated striking. In his last fight, he demonstrated a noteworthy focus on body strikes prior to finishing him with head strikes.

The Hawaiian has made some mistakes based on over-confidence in his grappling. Smolka will go to the mat, but if his offensive focus has offered opportunities for his opponents to get the better of the horizontal exchanges.

Casey Kenney (13-2-1) has spent a great deal of his UFC tenure on the mat. Over a trio of Octagon outings, Kenney has completed 4 takedowns will giving up 22. Despite those lopsided numbers, he has prevailed over a pair of capable ground fighters in Ray Borg and Manny Bermudez.

Kenney will need to overcome a sizable length disadvantage as Louis will stand 3-inches taller to go along with a 5″ reach advantage.

A capable ground fighter, Kenney has been able to routinely scramble out of his opponents’ takedowns and either get back to his feet or to a superior position.

Kenney will take Smolka down at will, partially because Louis is too willing to go to the floor. If he can’t catch Casey off his back early, Kenney will score significant points from top position. On the feet, Kenney offers a more impactful striking attack, but Smolka has shown signs of improvement. Kenney will utilize his more positionally responsible ground game and once Smolka begins to slow the gap will widen- my prediction is Casey Kenney to defeat Louis Smolka by decision.

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145lbs- Chris Gutierrez vs Vince Morales

Continuing the trend of fighter moving up a weight class to help deal with these uncertain times, Vince Morales (9-4-0) returns to action for the first time in nearly a year. Coming up short in his Contenders bout, Morales earned a victory in Bellator before getting the call to the UFC.

Against Benito Lopez, Morales dropped him in the opening round and landed more strikes overall but was unable to do enough to earn the judges’ nod. He has had issues closing the gap against rangier opponents, cutting down on the volume and impact of his strikes.

Morales will be the shorter man by 2-inches, but he will have a 3″ reach advantage over his foe.

More than willing to remain vertical, Chris Gutierrez (14-4-1) has finished 6 opponents by knockout. Where the Boston-native struggled has been on the mat. His debut performance started strong on the feet before he was put on the mat and submitted.

He gave up a pair of takedowns in his last fight, but managed to edge out a decision.

Gutierrez offers decent boxing and will counter striker, but his best weapons are his kicks. He was routinely landing low kicks on Geraldo de Freitas and buckled his base on a couple of occasions.

This should be an entertaining scrap, contested mainly on the feet. Morales appears to have the edge in power, but he needs to throw in combination more frequently. Gutierrez has the kicking game to replicate the success that Lopez had against Morales, but his willingness to move backwards might not sit well with the judges. Look for Morales to capitalize on his reach advantage when pushing forward, routinely backing his adversary up with hard combinations. Morales learns from his last fight and pushes a more aggressive pace from start to finish, my prediction is Vince Morales to defeat Chris Gutierrez by TKO.

UFC on ESPN 8

170lbs- Miguel Baeza vs Matt Brown

With retirement not suiting “The Immortal”, a 2019 return for veteran Matt Brown (22-16-0) produced a victory over fellow battle-tested vet Ben Saunders. Brown has now won back to back fights for the first time since his 7-fight winning streak ended in 2014.

Brown carries a brutal pace, punishing his foes in the clinch with elbows and punches. He can do damage at range with his kickboxing, but he is notoriously vulnerable to the body. He has been hurt on multiple occasions with well-placed strikes to his mid-section.

To go along with his 14 knockout wins, he has 6 submission victories. While capable on the mat, he has also proven susceptible to his opponents’ grapplings skills. Brown has suffered double digits submission defeats, most recently at UFC 198 to Demian Maia.

Looking to add to Brown’s growing number of stoppage losses will be the undefeated Miguel Baeza (8-0-0). “Caramel Thunder” has 6 knockouts wins on his record, 4 in the opening frame. He stopped Hector Aldana with a hard low kick in the middle frame of his debut.

Baeza is 11 years younger, but Brown will have a massive experience advantage in both quantity and quality. With the exception of Jake Ellenberger, the last 4 men to beat Brown all have multiple UFC title fights under their belt. Brown should have the advantage in work rate and variety as Baez can be too willing to sit back and can also be a little predictable with his strikes. Unless Baeza can hurt Brown, Matt should be able to overwhelm him with his pace and pressure- my prediction is Matt Brown to defeat Miguel Baeza by TKO.

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185lbs- Anthony Hernandez vs Kevin Holland

Despite his willingness to step in on short notice and face Marvin Vettori, Kevin Holland (16-5-0) didn’t get the call. Holland’s offer to fight twice in a week could have been an attempt to rebound from a tough submission loss to Brendan Allen.

The loss snapped his 3 fight winning streak. Holland is a capable and confident fighter. He offers a nice variety of strikes and can grapples.

Where Kevin has struggled as been on the mat. He is too willing to fight ot his opponent’s strength, grappling when he should strike and striking when he should grapple.

Anthony Hernandez (7-1-0 1NC) is coming off his 5th submission wins of his career, rebounding from getting tapped out in his debut by Markus Perez. Hernandez’s final pre-UFC win came over the aforementioned Allen on the scorecards.

Back to back middle-round fights have extended Hernandez’s long fight experience as the majority of his bouts have ended in the first frame.

“Fluffy” is very aggressive, throwing hard combinations and pushing forward behind them to clinch. He can get a little overzealous and will eat some big strikes as a result. Perez hurt him with a brutal body kick and Jun Yong Park was also hurting him during the exchanges.

Holland is too willing to go where the fight takes him and his lack of urgency is concerning. The aggressive power punching and grappling attack of Hernandez will create issues if Kevin is allowed Anthony to set the pace. Holland will slow down in the face of Hernandez’s aggression, spending too much time on the defensive- my prediction is Anthony Hernandez to defeat Kevin Holland by decision.

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145lbs- Giga Chikadze vs Irwin Rivera

Continuing the trend of late notice fight cancellations, Mike Davis was forced to withdraw due to weight cutting issues and in his place Titan FC Bantamweight champion Irwin Rivera (9-4-0) takes his shot on short notice.

“The Beast” is moving up to Featherweight which should make the weight cut more manageable. He went 3-0 in 2019, winning all 3 fights by TKO including a pair of Championship fight stoppages in the 4th round.

While primarily a striker, Irwin has been finished twice by knockout. In recent bouts, his opponents have focussed their attack on takedowns and grappling. Irwin has done a decent job surviving early and rallying once his opponent starts to fade.

Back to back close fights to start his UFC career have tested Giga Chikadze’s (9-2-0) will to win. The Georgian has been a strong starter, relying on his kickboxing background to carry the action early.

All 7 of his pre-UFC wins ended in the opening round and he was 0-2 outside of the first frame during that span. These stats in conjunction with his back to back debatable split decision wins suggest Giga is prone to fading down the stretch.

With a nice variety of kicking techniques, Giga will work up and down his opponent’s body including his self-named “Giga kick” to the liver.

Rivera is making his debut on incredibly short notice and moving up a weight class. He is also fighting a very talented kickboxer that will have a considerable length advantage. That distance will be further magnified by the kicks of Chikadze. Irwin is a bit of a slow starter, but could rally if Giga fades in the second half. That being said, Rivera doesn’t appear to offer the ground game that has troubled Chikadze. Rivera will struggle to work into boxing range, eating kicks at distance from the rangier and more impactful striker- my prediction is Giga Chikadze to defeat Irwin Rivera by TKO.

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125lbs- Mara Romero Borella vs Cortney Casey

Desperate for a victory, Cortney Casey (8-7-0) makes her 11th walk to the cage. Casey has had less the good luck to say the least- she has gone to the scorecards on 8 times inside the Octagon, winning just twice. She is 1-2 in split decisions.

After fighting at Strawweight, Casey is moving up to 125 pounds for this bout.

Casey has shown she can do little bit of everything inside the cage. She demonstrated her submission skills with a round 1 armbar of Randa Markos. Her improved striking has been showcased as well, throwing with decent volume and some power on multiple occasions.

Over her career, Casey has not faired well in longer bouts. She is 2-7 in after the opening 5-minutes compared to 6-0 inside the first frame.

Mara Romero (12-7-0 2NC) appeared on the cusp of a big win over Lauren Murphy before getting stopped via strikes midway through the final round. She has been finished 4-times by knockout and was dropped in her last fight

Unlike Casey, Borella has found success in close fights, carrying a 3-0 record in split decisions.

The Italian has found some success on the mat, taking down each of her opponents at least once. Her striking volume is not great, often relying on holding top position to grind out the clock or look for a submission.

The American is a bigger Strawweight so the lack of a cut could help her, but she might lose the ability to muscle a larger opponent around. Casey has faced better competition than Borella and fought them close. On the feet, “Cast Iron” should have the edge in volume, and Borella’s durability is a concern. Unless MRB can routinely take her down, she will struggle to commit enough volume to edge her out- my prediction is Cortney Casey to defeat Mara Romero Borella by decision.

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145lbs- Darren Elkins vs Nate Landwehr

A fairytale run between 2015 and early 2018 saw Darren Elkins (24-8-0) rise into contention, but a loss to the now Champion Alexander Volkanovski was followed by 2 more defeats.

“The Damage” has relied heavily on his durability and grinding offensive pressure. In his last victory, he dropped the opening round against Michael Johnson only to rally in the middle frame for a submission win.

A capable wrestler, Elkins has put up some solid takedown numbers especially during his 6-fight winning streak. Elkins is a decent striker as well, but is far from quick and often absorbs a lot of damage.

In a battle of debutants, Nat Landwehr (13-3-0) got second best against Herbert Burns- falling via first-round knockout. It was the first knockout loss of his career compared to 8 victories by knockout.

Landwehr is an aggressive striker but has just a pair of first-round finishes, instead finishing 6 opponents in the 2nd round or beyond. He often starts slow and rallies in the later stages of his fights.

Against Burns, Nate gave up an early takedown and his aggressive style opens him up to counter level changes by Elkins. If Landwehr can’t stay on the feet, a potential striking advantage becomes a non-factor.

Elkins is facing the potential end of his UFC career with a 4th straight defeat. He is taking a step back in competition compared to his recent opponents and he should come out desperate. Elkins presses a consistent pace and if Landwehr can’t defend the takedowns Darren will pile up the points. Look for Elkins to get off to a strong start and not allowing Nate to find his striking rhythm- my prediction is Darren Elkins to defeat Nate Landwehr by decision.

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265lbs- Don’Tale Mayes vs Rodrigo Nascimento

The opening fight of the night features 3-time Contender Series competitor Don’Tale Mayes (7-3-0) attempting to jump start his UFC career following a submission loss to the heavily favoured Ciryl Gane.

The UFC sophomore stands a towering 6’6″, 4-inches taller than his opponent and roughly 15-pounds heavier than his foe, but he will have just a single inch reach advantage.

Mayes is improving his physical makeup and he moves well for a big fighter. He struggled with the kickboxing of Gane, but he has power in his hands and will mix in some spinning techniques. His durability was also put on display- taking big shots to the chin and body fron Gane.

Brazil’s Rodrigo Nascimento (7-0-0) has finished all of his opponent, 5 by submission and all but 1 of those 7 finishes came in the first round.

Prior to his Contender’s series win, his 3 opponents were a combined 6-11-1.

In his last fight, Nascimento got the fight to the floor and cut through his guard with relative ease. After some solid positional control and GNP he moved to an arm-triangle choke for the win.

Rodrigo had been out of action for almost 2-years prior to his Contender Series win.

Mayes struggled with the mat game of Gane, a noted striker. He did take a significant amount of damage prior to hitting the floor which clearly softened him up. Nascimento is a talented BJJ player with great finishing instincts. If he can take Don’Tale down, he has a legit chance of ending the fight. The biggest concern for Rodrigo is his lack of long fight experience and poor level of competition. Look for Mayes to use his size and movement to shuck off the takedown attempts of the Brazilian, potentially drag this bout beyond round 1, and do damage on a fading opponent- my prediction is Don’Tale Mayes to defeat Rodrigo Nascimento by TKO.

UFC Fight Night 171

265lbs- Andrei Arlovski vs Philipe Lins

Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski (28-19-0 2NC) headlines the final fight of the undercard. Arlovski has just a single win over his last 6 walks to the cage- a wide decision over co-main even fighter Ben Rothwell.

Despite his record, he has fought in many recent closer bouts that could have gone his way. Andrei had gone to decision in 8 straight fights prior to his last loss. He has become more of a point fighter, utilizing movement and volume mixed with some ground fighting.

Plaguing the “Pitbull” throughout his career has been a crackable chin. He has been knocked out 11 times over 19 defeats, but his UFC 244 KO stoppage was his first since 2017- 10 fights.

Brazil’s Philipe (14-3-0) Lins went 3-3 in Bellator before entering the Professional Fight League. His 4-0 PFL run was capped off with a 4th round TKO win over Josh Copeland to win the organization’s Heavyweight tournament.

Lins has some punching power, but at times can be a little tentative. He has multiple wins in which he was behind on the cards before finishing his foe. Against Alex Nicholson, he was hurt and in trouble before landing his own power strikes and stopping his adversary.

“Monstro” has been finished 4 times by knockout. He tends to be a counter puncher which can put him behind in the exchanges if he is unable to land with regularity.

Prior to his recent success, Lins fought at Light Heavyweight and he will the smaller man here. He is also returning from an injury-related layoff and debuting. Arlovski and Philipe have trained together so there is a level of familiarity. To say the least there are a number of factors here. Andrei doesn’t have the power he used to and his output can lag. Look for Lins to land heavier counter strikes while out-quicking the Belarussian from start to finish- my prediction is Philipe Lins to defeat Andrei Arlovski by decision.

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155lbs- Michael Johnson vs Thiago Moises

Over the first 5-years in the promotion, TUF 12 Finalist Michael Johnson (19-15-0) went 8-4 including wins over Edson Barboza and Tony Ferguson. Over his last 5-years with the company he has gone a dismal 3-7 including back to back losses in his last 2 fights.

Johnson has power, he has speed, and he can wrestle. Unfortunately, he also has subpar cardio, vulnerable submission defense, and a less than concrete chin. He has been known to get off to a quick start before fading as the fight advances.

In his return to Lightweight against Stevie Ray, Johnson was finding a lot of success on the feet but gave up a key third-round takedown in a close fight.

Jumping into the deep end early, Thiago Moises (12-4-0) dropped a decision to Beneil Dariush in his debut. His sophomore fight he utilized a strong combination of takedowns and top position to take the fight on the scorecards.

Moises authored several well time double legs. Once on the mat, he did an excellent job of maintaining control and doing damage.

The Brazilian has some decent kicks and solid counterpunching, but he got knocked down in his last fight and couldn’t match his opponent’s vertical volume.

Johnson’s key to victory is his volume. He needs to engage Moises on the feet and keep the pressure on him. Unfortunately, his history of fading suggests he can’t do that for a full 15-minutes. Moises can counter strike and has decent pop in his hands, but he needs to focus on his grappling. Johnson seems at a loss when on his back and Thiago can replicate his previous issues. Thiago will pick up a couple of takedowns to nullify Johnson’s volume and score with the judges- my prediction is Thiago Moises to defeat Michael Johnson by decision.

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135lbs- Sijara Eubanks vs Sarah Moras

Despite a 3-0 run and TUF 26 tournament finals birth, Sijara Eubanks (4-4-0) has struggled to find her footing in the UFC. Unable to compete in the inaugural Flyweight title fight, “Sarj” has finally settled on a run as a Bantamweight.

She recently lost a competitive rematch to Aspen Ladd, but more concerning she came up short against Bethe Correia. After a strong start, Eubanks tired and was outworked in the final 2 frames- dropping a 29-28 decision on all cards.

A physically strong fighter, Sijara’s cardio has been a concern over her career.

Another fighter that has had issues with cardio is Canadian Sarah Moras (6-5-0). That being said, she is coming off of a third-round TKO victory to snap a 3-fight losing skid. She put forth a definitive final frame leading up to the finish.

Moras is at her most dangerous early in her fights while relying on her grappling attack. She submitted Ashlee Evans-Smith and will threaten from both top and bottom positions.

The Canadian used her jab effectively her last fight, but she also capitalized on a young fighter that was debuting after a prolonged layoff. Moras also missed weight and the lack of a draining cut could have improved her cardio.

If Moras’ cardio has improved, she could replicate her late fight success if Eubanks falters. Sijara had issues with the grappling of Aspen Ladd which suggests Moras could capitalize as well. Conversely, Moras tends to give up position, and Eubanks is not a fighter you want on top. Moras is the bigger girl, she will force the grappling exchanges, wear on her foe, and either edge her out with position or catch a sub- my prediction is Sarah Moras to defeat Sijara Eubanks by decision.

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155lbs- Gabriel Benitez vs Omar Morales

Mexico’s Gabriel Benitez (21-7-0) was unable to continue his winning ways, falling via round 1 TKO to Sodiq Yusuff- he had won 2 in a row. “Moggly” has struggled to remain active, fighting just once a year since 2016, with the exception of 2017 when he made the walk on two occasions.

Benitez has a pretty solid kicking arsenal and will work his opponent up and down the body. Against Sodiq he landed some sharp inside leg kicks that over the course of a full fight will do some serious damage.

His hands look solid as well, dropping his Yusuff midway through the round before getting finished himself in the final minute.

Despite having finished all but one of his bouts prior to his debut, Omar Morales (9-0-0) was unable to take Dong Hyun Ma out, but still took a victory on the cards.

Morales will be the larger man as Benitez traditionally fights at Featherweight.

With 5 of his 9 wins coming by submission, it wasn’t surprising to see Morales land an early takedown against Ma and control the majority of the round from top position. As the fight advanced, he found more success with his striking, mixing up his kicking and punching techniques.

Benitez has issues with opponents that try to take him down and Morales is capable on the mat. On the feet, they both throw solid kicks while Benitez might have a slight edge with his boxing. The biggest factor here is the size of Morales. He is a large Lightweight taking on a fighter coming up from 145 pounds. If they trade for the duration of the bout, look for the impact of Omar’s offense to add up. Morales grabs some key top time which augments his more impactful striking- my prediction is Omar Morales to defeat Gabriel Benitez by decision.

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135lbs- Hunter Azure vs Brian Kelleher

A prolonged layoff and 2-fight losing skid had Brian Kelleher (20-10-0) near the end of his UFC tenure. A first-round upset victory on the strength of his patented guillotine choke, accounting for 6 of 9 sub wins, put “Boom” back on track”.

The BJJ Brown belt has lived and died on the strength of this submission game. While his biggest win total is a product of his submissions, he has also been submitted in 6 of his 10 defeats.

Kelleher does push an aggressive pace which can overwhelm his foe, but it also opens him up defensively.

Undefeated, Hunter Azure bested TUF winner Brad Katona in his debut- his 4th win of 2019.

In his Contender Series bout, he utilized hard low kicks and punches to help him to close the gap and set up his wrestling.

He didn’t find the wrestling success against Katona, giving up multiple takedowns but winning the bout on the feet. He hurt Katona on a couple of occasions, but at times he was throwing some wide loose hooks.

Azure put together a solid debut performance, but against Kelleher, he is facing a fighter that can be more dangerous in key moments. Azure is more durable, has a stronger wrestling based, and pushes a pretty steady pace. He needs to be mindful of his neck when shooting on Kelleher, but unless “Boom” can catch him in a bad moment- Hunter should outwork him from start to finish- my prediction is Hunter Azure to defeat Brian Kelleher by Decision.

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265lbs- Chase Sherman vs Ike Villanueva

A 2-5 record in the UFC led to the dismissal of Chase Sherman (14-6-0). He has since rebounded to win a trio of contests under the Island Fights banner to go along with a 1-1-1 record with Bare Knuckle FC all in 2019.

Sherman continued to add to his knockout totals, adding 3 stoppages for a total of 14 wins by TKO or KO. Conversely, he has also been knocked out in 4 of his 6 losses. His 3 regional wins came over opponents with a combined record of 22-20.

When in the UFC, Sherman demonstrated moments of capability largely on the strength of his striking. His kicking game was serviceable and as the numbers indicate, he has power in his hands.

Across the cage will be the debuting Ike Villanueva (16-9-0). “Hurricane Ike” returned from a nearly 2-year hiatus to go 3-0 in 2019. He picked up recent wins over UFC veterans Roger Narvaez and Rashad Coulter. Coulter also lost to Sherman inside the Octagon.

Another heavy hitter, Ike has recorded 13 wins by knockout. He has also been finished 8 times, 5 times by submission. Villanueva has fought at Heavyweight, but he traditionally fights at 205 pounds and will be the smaller man.

In addition to his punching power, he has some decent hand speed. In recent fights, he showed good killer instinct hurting his opponent but not getting over-aggressive prior to the finish.

Sherman is the bigger man, but he is going to struggle with the speed and power combination offered by Ike. If Sherman can routinely land his low kicks he could take away his base and set up a finish, but that will take time. Instead, look for Villanueva to close the distance behind punching combinations, targetting Sherman’s shaky chin- my prediction is Ike Villanueva to defeat Chase Sherman by TKO.

UFC 249

170lbs- Donald Cerrone vs Anthony Pettis

The headlining bout of the undercard features a pair of former WEC competitors squaring off for the second time in their careers. Former UFC and WEC Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis (22-10-0) won the first fight, stopping Donald Cerrone (36-14-0 1NC) via first-round TKO.

The fight took place in 2013 and in the Lightweight division. This bout will be contested at Welterweight.

Cerrone enters the contest having lost a trio of bouts, all by TKO, and all against elite-level competition. This is the second 3-fight losing skids for “Cowboy” since 2017.

Pettis hasn’t fared much better of late, losing 3 of his last 4 contests and failing to string consecutive wins together since winning and defending the 155-pound strap in 2013/2014.

Where “Showtime” has struggled has been with his ability to endure gritty, demanding fights. Most of his defeats featured his opponents breaking him with a more brawling, less technical approach.

For Cerrone, he has had issues with getting off to slow starts. He admitted he was mentally unprepared for the McGregor fight and in a number of other high profile bouts he struggled early and was often finished.

The 3-fight losing streak and general letdown of Donald’s last performance should serve as motivators for Cerrone. Additionally, the circumstances of this bout could be less impactful on his “I know a guy” attitude than the more delicate Pettis. Pettis doesn’t have the best track record in decisions and this fight has 2 key scenarios suggesting it could go the distance; a rematch from a quick first encounter and the final fight of a prelim (you know the stats if you follow my bet packs). Look for Cerrone to simply do more during the exchanges, landing more impactful combos and outworking Pettis who tends to rely too much on flash over function- my prediction is Donald Cerrone to defeat Anthony Pettis by decision.

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265lbs- Aleksei Oleinik vs Fabricio Werdum

An alumni of Pride and Strikeforce and former UFC Heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum (23-8-1) returns after a prolonged absence that came as the result of a USADA suspension. The former champion has gone 9-3 over his second stint with the promotion, but he is coming off an upset knockout loss to Alexander Volkov.

Werdum’s base skill set is his elite level BJJ, but his rise to the title was the result of vastly improved Muay Thai striking and cardio.

Over 2-years removed from his last fight and at 42-years old, there are some concerns about Werdum’s current state. Additionally, he had requested a release from his contract which further adds concerns about his level of focus at this stage of his career.

Also 42-years old, the 72-fight veteran Aleksei Oleinik (58-13-1) appeared to be showing his age after back to back defeats, but rallied to submit Maurice Greene last January. While many fighters on this card are dealing with longer than normal layoffs between fights, the big Russia’s return to action is far more traditional.

With 46 of his 58 career wins coming by submission, Oleinik would love nothing more than to be the first and potentially only to submitted Werdum. The unorthodox submission skills of Oleinik has made him difficult to defend against once on the mat.

He owns multiple wins by scarf-hold headlock and Ezekiel choke.

Despite his reliance on submissions, he has some power in his hands. His above-average reach allows him to land some powerful strikes while he attempts to close the gap and grapple.

The majority of Oleinik’s wins have been the product of his foes’ inexperience on the mat- that won’t be the case with Werdum. Fabricio owns submission wins over some pretty talented grapplers and could actually be the greater submission threat here. At the least, their skills could balance each other out. If that is the case, Werdum has the edge in striking skill and cardio while Oleinik might get a very slight nod in power. Unless Werdum is severely impacted by the layoff or walks into a big shot, this is his fight to win- my prediction is Fabricio Werdum to defeat Aleksei Oleinik by TKO.

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115lbs- Carla Esparza vs Michelle Waterson

The inaugural UFC Strawweight champion, Carla Esparza (15-6-0) has gone through some ups and downs in the promotion but she is currently enjoying a 2-fight winning streak.

A wrestling reliant competitor, over her last 2 wins she has completed a combined 12 takedowns. Throughout her 6 UFC victories, she has completed 26 total takedowns. She is 5-1 when completing 4 or more takedowns and 1-3 when completing 2 or less.

“The Cookie Monster” is a capable striker, but as the numbers suggest- she needs to augment her vertical offense with top control time.

A former Invicta Atomweight Champion, Michelle Waterson (17-7-0) was unable to propel herself into a title fight with a wide decision loss to former Champion and recently failed title challenger Joanna Jedrzejczyk. It ended her best run in the UFC; a trio of wins including a decision over Esparza’s long-time friend Felice Herrig.

“The Karate Hottie” draws on a number of backgrounds; Karate, BJJ, and Judo skills are all evident in her style.

Look for Waterson to utilize a lot of front leg kicks while navigating the outer distances of her striking range. She will also close the gap to work from the clinch when needed.

The stats tell a pretty straight forward story regarding how this fight will be decided. Waterson will need to avoid the wrestling and provide enough offense to edge a decision. It won’t be easy. Waterson is undersized, a factor that Carla’s wrestling will capitalize on. Michelle doesn’t offer enough volume on the feet to counter the pressure and takedowns that Esparza will pile up. Carla will close the gap with regularity and secure enough top control to earn the nod- my prediction is Carla Esparza to defeat Michelle Waterson by decision.

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185lbs- Uriah Hall vs Ronaldo Souza

The opening fight of the televised prelims features one of the better UFC Middleweights to have never fought for the title as Ronaldo Souza (26-8-0 1NC) makes his return to the division. Jacare was unsuccessful in his Light Heavyweight main event, dropping a split decision to Jan Blachowicz.

At 40-years of age, Souza appears to be running out of time to contend and his recent performances may reinforce that fact. He has lost each of his last 3 fights to go the distance and was arguably behind against Chris Weidman before stopping him in the 3rd round.

The Brazilian is a feared BJJ practitioner, with respectable power in his hands. Unfortunately, the wear and tear of a long career could be taking a toll on Souza as he is far less consistent with his grappling attack and not as durable overall.

Potentially looking to capitalize on that trend, Uriah Hall (15-9-0) has made a habit out of rallying after slow starts. He most recently secured a come from behind split decision win over a fading Antonio Carlos Jr.

His 3 previous victories have all come via finish after he dropped the early portions of each fight.

“Prime Time” is a dynamic striker with fight finishing power and a variety of techniques. Unfortunately, his career has been plagued by his inability to pull the trigger in big fights and either getting outworked or finished.

If Souza can take Hall down early, he needs to make it count. Conversely, for every moment that Hall gets on the feet he needs to score. Uriah’s jab looked sensational against Carlos Junior and Jacare’s looping strikes will leave him open to Hall’s counters. The ACJ win will build Hall’s confidence which should help him if he is put in some tough spots on the floor. Uriah will be defensive early and take over the fight as his foe falters- my prediction is Uriah Hall to defeat Jacare Souza by TKO.

 

  

170lbs- Vicente Luque vs Niko Price

The final fight on the ESPN+ Prelims is also the first of 2 rematches on the undercard. Vicente Luque (17-7-0) has won 6 in a row and 10 of 11 prior to running into Stephen Thompson.

In 2017, he faced and defeated Niko Price after his loss to Leon Edwards (14-3-0 1NC) which snapped a 4-fight winning streak.

Luque is a lethal fighter with heavy punching power, solid kicks, and a nasty submission game. Against Thompson, he ran into a superior long range striker that prevent him from getting into a range where he could deploy his own offense.

In their first encounter, Price was more than willing to engage Luque on the feet, but struggled to deal with the combination of the Brazilians power and pressure.

In cohesion with his willingness to trade with Vicente, Price has yet to go the distance in his UFC career. “The Hybrid” has finished a 4-pack of opponents by knockout to go along with a pair of submissions.

He has also been finished twice by knockout. Price’s durability is a major concern, Luque hurt him before subbing him and Tim Means had Niko is significant trouble before Price floored him.

Luque has been on an absolute tear, smashing the majority of his opponents and demonstrating an insane ability to absorb damage. Price has made considerable strides since their first encounter, but his ability to deal with Luque’s onslaught is still in question. The Brazilian isn’t fighting at home and is instead entering the home turf of Niko, but without fan support. Nonetheless, Luque batters Price and finishes him again- my prediction is Vicente Luque to defeat Niko Price by TKO.

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145lbs- Bryce Mitchell vs Charles Rosa

Representing the moniker of Ultimate Fighter Season, Bryce Mitchell (12-0-0) has maintained his undefeated record through a trio of UFC bouts. Most recently, he submitted Matt Sayles via twister- winning “Thug Nasty” a Submission of the Year award.

Mitchell’s UFC wins have been odd statistical performances. He landed just 17 strikes against Bobby Moffett, gave up 5 takedowns, but worked his way to a decision win. In his debut, he won another decision despite ending the bout on the wrong end of the striking totals.

A bit of a slow starter, Bryce has proven himself able to work out of some bad spots- especially on the mat.

After a nearly 30-month layoff, Charles Rosa (12-3-0) returned to action to secure a shocking upset submission win over submission ace Manny Bermudez. Rosa didn’t offer much in the way of offense right up until he locked in the finishing sub.

Similar to his opponent, “Boston Strong” has a submission heavy record, including a pair in the UFC. He put up some solid takedown numbers his first 3 UFC fights but has not done so recently.

An area he might be able to find success against Mitchell is on the feet. Rosa has a work-rate on the feet far outstrips anything that Mitchell has shown, but he will be hardpressed to prevent the grappling exchanges.

This fight will most likely be contested on the mat and that should favour the larger Mitchell. Rosa can hold his own on the floor, he will struggle to routinely work his way to a superior position. As previously mentioned, “Boston Strong” rely on his striking and try to keep Bryce at a distance. Instead, look for Mitchell to routinely push forward, back Rosa into the cage, and win the majority of the clinch battles and scrambles- my prediction is Bryce Mitchell to defeat Charles Rosa by decision.

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205lbs-Sam Alvey vs Ryan Spann

A trio of wins to start his UFC run and a 7-fight winning streak has Ryan Spann (17-5-0) making some noise in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. Offering a recorded that includes 11 wins by submission, “Superman” turned some heads early with his knockout win over Pride legend Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.

He is coming off a submission victory over Devin Clark.

Spann isn’t known for his prolonged fights, with a high percentage of his contest ending early. His UFC debut snapped a string of 6 straight 1-round bouts.

For “Smil’n” Sam Alvey (33-13-0 1NC), his move to Light Heavyweight has been far from productive. With a trio of defeats leading up to this contest, Alvey’s strong 2-0 start to his time at 205 is far behind him.

Alvey, a former Middleweight, will be at a physical disadvantage. He will need to overcome a 3″ height advantage and 4″ reach edge favouring Spann.

Despite his big knockout numbers, Alvey has struggled to find the mark. He tends to rely too much on his counter striking and even when he comes out aggressively the finishes have simply not been there. He has just a single win by knockout over his last 10 bouts.

Spann is the larger more well-rounded fighter and at a much better place in his career. Alvey has the power to score a finish, but his openings to do so will be limited. Spann utilized a methodical approach against Clark before opening up in round 2, a similar style will benefit him here to avoid Sam’s counters. Alvey’s durability has taken a hit of late, that continues here, my prediction is Ryann Spann to defeat Sam Alvey by TKO.

UFN 170

125lbs- Jussier Formiga vs Brandon Moreno

In a fight that could determine the first title challenger, once the UFC finally crowns a new Champion- Mexico’s Brandon Moreno (16-5-1) takes on Brazilian grappling star Jussier Formiga (23-6-0).

Formiga is quite familiar with title eliminator bouts. He has fought and lost to 5 separate opponents that have gone on to contend for the title in their next contest. He also holds wins over a trio of failed title contenders, including a recent victory over Deiveson Figueiredo.

Similar to other grappling aces on this card, Jussier’s striking as improved and he can more than hold his own on the feet. He dropped Ben Nguyen prior to locking up a submission. Ultimately, his mat game is where he does his best work. Formiga is a nightmare on the mat and lethal if he is able to get to his opponent’s back- 9 wins by RNC.

“The Assassin Baby” has secured a pair of UFC submission of capable grapplers and 10 overall as a pro. He has showcased a strong offensive grappling acumen, but his defensive work has left him open at times.

Moreno is an excellent scrambler, which allows him to work out of some bad positions on the mat. That being said, attempting to scramble with Formiga could prove problematic.

His victory over Kai Kara-France was primarily orchestrated on the feet, with a noticeably improved striking attack. He will want to employ something similar again Formia. Jussier has been knocked out 3 times (50% of his defeats).

There is an avenue to victory for Moreno and with Formiga’s track record of coming up short in big fights, a win for the Brazilian is not a foregone conclusion. Formiga’s gas tank has been hit and miss and if Moreno can push a torrid pace in the opening round, he could take the contest over in rounds 2 and 3. Conversely, Moreno’s inability to stay vertical against Askar Askarov doesn’t bode well against a fighter who is adept and keeping his foe grounded with extreme proficiency. Formiga will do a decent job striking, but look for him to close the gap and drag Moreno to the floor where he will control the majority of the action- my prediction is Jussier Formiga to defeat Brandon Moreno by decision.

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115lbs- Randa Markos vs Amanda Ribas

A growing force in the Strawweight division, Amanda Ribas (8-1-0) took a dominant decision over formerly undefeated Mackenzie Dern to improve to 2-0 inside the Octagon. Ribas submitted Emily Whitmire in her debut.

Ribas muted Dern’s ground game with solid TDD and countering with her own throws and strong top position. Against Whitmire, she was dominant on the floor prior to securing her 3rd submission win.

The Brazilian’s striking looked solid against Dern, stepping in with solid power and leaning just out of range with Dern attempted to fire back. She worked in a couple of flashier techniques, but her balance of volume and power was well-paced.

Canada’s Randa Markos (10-7-1) is stepping in on short notice for Paige VanZant. She most recently scored a split decision win over Ashley Yoder and has alternated wins and losses or almost her entire UFC career.

“Quiet Storm” is a dismal 6-6 on the scorecards including a 2-2 record in split decisions. Her only trip to Brazil ended in a majority draw against Marina Rodriguez.

Markos is a capable grappler in her own right and the majority of her wins have come over fights that she could get the better of on the mat. Her striking is solid, but not nearly as diverse as her grappling attack.

Ribas’s win over Dern might be a little inflated as Dern is still pretty green at this level. Markos will pose a solid test for Ribas, but for the most part, Randa might be good enough to hold her own but not get the better of Amanda. Look for Ribas to take Randa down when she wants and cut her up on the feet with a more accurate and impactful striking offense- my prediction is Amanda Ribas to defeat Randa Markos by decision.

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170lbs- Aleksei Kunchenko vs Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos

The 35-year old former M1-Global Welterweight champion Aleksei Kunchenk (20-1-0) is coming off the first loss of his career. The Russian was unable to overcome short notice replacement Gilbert Burns, falling by decision in Argentina.

Kunchenko’s usually reliable striking offense was stunted by the grappling skills of Burns, as he spent large portions of the fight on his back.

With 13 wins by knockout, Kunchenko has power and offers a pretty solid short-range striking attack. His debut fight against Alves ended with a positive result, but the aging Brazilian had a lot of success trading with Aleksei and actually landed more strikes over the first 2 rounds.

In a similar fashion, Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos will need to rally after suffering his first loss in 8 fights. After dropping his debut by split decision, dos Santos won 7 in a row before running into Li Jingliang in China.

He is 3-1 fighting at home while in the UFC.

The Brazilian is a dangerous striker, finishing 14 of his 21 wins by knockout. He has had a tendency to get off to a slow start, but he carries his power deep into fights.

His TDD has also been a point of contention, but when he is able to avoid getting put on his back his striking volume benefits significantly.

Had Kuchneko fought Alves in Brazil and not at home in Russia, he might have dropped a decision. Fighting on the road in China, dos Santos didn’t look like himself. That shouldn’t be an issue here. The Brazilian is the more active striker and should have the edge in power. There is also the potential that he mixes in a few takedowns to keep his foe off balance. While dos Santos has talked about being more defensive, his offensive pressure gets it done here- my prediction is Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos to defeat Aleksei Kunchenko by decision.

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135lbs- Enrique Barzola vs Rani Yahya

The ultra unassuming BJJ ace Rani Yahya (26-10-0 1NC) enters the Octagon on the heels of having his 3-fight winning streak snapped by Ricky Simon. Yahya, the owner of 20 pro submission wins, has lost just twice in his last 9 fights.

Despite making noticeable improvements in his striking, Rani remains a grappling specialist. He effectively closes the distance and drags his foe to the floor and often only needs 1 completion to control the duration of the round on the mat.

Conversely, when his opponent is able to avoid the grappling game of his foe, Rani is at a significant deficiency. Additionally, the Brazilian’s cardio is a weak point of his game and often fails him in the final frame. This often results in him winning the opening 2 rounds and holding on over the final round.

Attempting to avoid the BJJ of Yahya will be Peru’s Enrique Barzola (16-5-1). Barzola put together a similar period of success with 8 wins over 10 fights, but he has since dropped 2 of his last 3 outings.

Stemming from a strong wrestling background, Barzola has built the majority of his MMA success around a volume-based takedown game. He has averaged 6.5 takedowns per victory compared to 0.6 completions per defeat.

Barzola has developed a serviceable striking game which will be at the focal point of his success if he can force Yahya to stay on his feet.

Yahya is fighting at home, but he is also coming off a 13-month layoff. For Barzola, his cut to Bantamweight will allow him to augment his wrestling (offensively and defensively) with an improved physical edge. Yahya needs to score takedowns and top control and he needs to do it early. Barzola has a vastly superior gas tank and striking game which will be his key to success. Look for Rani to come up short in his bid to control his foe on the mat and fade as the fight progresses- my prediction is Enrique Barzola to defeat Rani Yahya by decision.

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125lbs- Maryna Moroz vs Mayra Bueno Silva

A successful debut submission win over Gillian Robertson gave way to a 17-month hiatus for Brazil’s Mayra Silva (5-0-0). She spent the majority of the Robertson fight on the defensive, especially when put on her back.

She was able to turn the fight in the final second of the round, snatching her 3rd career win by submission.

The majority of the Brazilian’s wins have come in the opening round. Her only non-first round finish was a 25-minute decision victory in 2017.

Ukraine’s Maryna Moroz (9-3-0) scored an upset win of Sabina Mazo to halt a minor losing streak. It was her 6th straight trips to the scorecards. She had previously finished the first 6 opponents of her career.

Moroz found success against Mazo utilizing a more aggressive striking attack. She had previously struggled to find her range, often coming up short on the majority of her combinations.

After submitting JoJo Calderwood in her debut, Moroz has failed to land more strikes than any of her 6 opponents.

Bueno Silva has been out of action for a while which could be a concern, but it also opens the potential for significant improvements. Moroz looked better in her last fight, but her opponent’s tendency to start slow was a major contributor. With Moroz’s record of close decisions and issues landing volume, fighting in Brazil will not be kind to her on the scorecards. It might not matter if they don’t make it to the scorecards- my prediction is Mayra Bueno Silva to defeat Maryna Moroz by submission.

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125lbs- David Dvorak vs Bruno Silva

The rebuilding of the UFC’s Flyweight division continues as Czech champion David Dvorak (17-3-0) makes his UFC debut. Dvorak has won 13-straight fights including- finishing each opponent. He is 2-2 on the scorecards compared to 8 wins by knockout and 7 victories by submission.

His regional level opposition has been decent with his last 3 opponents combining for a record of 35-18.

As Dvorak’s record indicates, he offers a decent striking repertoire and is willing to hit the mat in pursuit of a finish.

Filling in on short notice, Bruno Silva (10-4-2) moved up to Bantamweight for his debut but returns to his more natural weight class. Silva suffered an early knockdown against Khalid Taha, but lasted into the 3rd frame before getting finished on the mat.

Silva throws a nice variety of spinning attacks and has scored a knockout with a spinning wheel kick. More conventionally, he will target the body with hard kicks and mix in some leg attacks as well.

The TUF Brazilian alumni changed the complexion of the fight with a middle-round takedown and decent top control. He will most likely look for something similar against Dvorak.

Dvorak is getting the call with a month to prep, travelling from Europe, and he hasn’t fought more than 2 rounds in each of his last 14 fights. These scenarios create some uncertainty when taking that step up in competition. Silva struggled with the power-punching of Taha and while Dvorak isn’t as heavy a hitter- he is more active and technically sound than the Brazilian. If Silva can’t take him down, the Czech will get the better of the striking exchanges- my prediction is David Dvorak to defeat Bruno Silva by knockout.

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135lbs- Veronica Macedo vs Bea Malecki

Snatching victory from defeat, Veronica Macedo (6-3-1) scored a surprising submission win over Polyana Viana. The victory ended a 3-fight losing streak. Macedo has proven herself to be scrappy during her UFC run, but she has also been finished in 2 of her 3 Octagon losses.

Macedo is a Black belt in BJJ and Taekwondo. She has been taken down 8 times over her first 4 UFC fights, including 7 over her trio of defeats.

Despite coming from a striking background, Bea Malecki (3-0-0) utilized her ground skills to secure a submission win in her debut- the 2nd of her career.

During her previous experience with the promotion, the Swede faltered on TUF 28, losing in the opening round to Leah Leatson.

Malecki will have a massive 10″ reach advantage and stand 5-inches taller than her foe. Macedo is fighting at Bantamweight after spending time at 125-pounds.

Macedo has the experience edge in both quality and quantity, but she has been on the losing side of the majority of her time spent inside the Octagon. Regardless of her approach, she will need to overcome some considerable length issues to get into range to strike or grapple. Look for Malecki to continue to show improvements with her MMA game, keeping Macedo on the outside with her range weapons and using her size to stay vertical once they are in close- my prediction is Bea Malecki to defeat Veronica Macedo by decision.

UFC 248

135lbs- Sean O’Malley vs Jose Quinonez

Back to back wins and an engaging personality got “Sugar” Sean O’Malley (10-0-0) off to a good start inside the Octagon. Unfortunately,  a failed drug test and multiple suspensions forced him out of action and cost him a high profile fight with Marlon Vera.

He works a volume-based striking attacking and has finished 6 opponents by knockout.

In his last appearance, he suffered a foot injury but managed to eke out a decision after his opponent opted to put him on his back for the final round of action.

This fight was expected to take place in 2018, but “Sugar” withdrew in anticipation of his first failed drug test and subsequent suspension.

A run on TUF Latin American and debut defeat were followed by a 4-pack of victories before a submission loss to Nathaniel Wood slowed Jose Quinonez (8-3-0). The Mexican fighter has since rebounded with a victory over Carlos Huachin.

Jose’s success has been a product of decent striking melded together with prolonged top control. He does a decent job of controlling his opponent on the floor and while he isn’t much of a finisher- he knows how to score points.

The prolonged layoff is a concern for O’Malley. That being said, he is a confident fighter that will most likely handle the potential for ring rust well. Quinonez needs to mix it up, landing takedowns and forcing O’Malley to be defensive. O’Malley is the longer fighter and the bigger hitter- he is also more active than his foe. Unless the layoff results in a slow start, look for “Sugar” to outwork Quinonez on the feet and avoid “El Teco’s” attempts to take him down- my prediction is Seasn O’Malley to defeat Jose Quinonez by decision.

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155lbs- Austin Hubbard vs Mark Madsen

The undefeated Danish fighter Mark Madsen (9-0-0) needed just 72-seconds of his UFC debut to secure a submission finish. It was the third knockout win of his career.

A silver medalist in Greco-Roman Wrestling at the 2016 Olympic games, Madsen closed the gap early in his debut. He does a decent job of punching and changing levels to shoot. Despite coming up short on his first TDA, he established double underhooks and quickly forced his opponent to the floor.

From top position, he will unload with some decent GNP and will also look for subs. All of his stoppages have come in round 1.

Austin Hubbard (11-3-0) is 7-years younger than Madsen. He faced a world-class BJJ practitioner in his debut in Davi Ramos, surviving the full 15-minutes, but coming up short on the cards. He gave up a trio of takedowns.

He had a much better outing in his 2nd fight, turning the tables on his opponent with 3 of his own takedowns and a decision victory.

Not surprisingly, Hubbard will need to keep this fight standing. He has some power in his hands and if he can force his opponent out of his comfort zone, it could create the opening he needs to turn this fight in his favour.

With a 4-pack of 5 round fights on his record and a number of other longer contests, Hubbard has more experience beyond the opening round. That being said, if he spends the majority of the fight on his back it won’t matter. Madsen has shown he can carry his pace deep into fights and he offers the vastly superior skill set. With the struggles that Hubbard had with Ramos, it is hard to believe Madsen won’t be able to take him down- my prediction is Mark Madsen to defeat Austin Hubbard by decision.

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185lbs- Saparbek Safarov vs Rodolfo Vieira

Maintaining an undefeated MMA record, BJJ ace Rodolfo Vieira (6-0-0) debuted with his 5 submission win in 6 pro outings. His second-round arm-triangle choke of Oskar Piechota was just his 2nd time fighting beyond the opening frame.

Vieira is a monster on the mat and did a decent job of setting up his shots against Piechota, jabbing and ducking under. His wrestling is still a work in progress, but he will work a solid trip into his TDAs to increase their effectiveness.

On top, his GNP is solid and opens opportunities for his lethal choke game.

Another capable finisher, Saparbek Safarov (9-2-0) has stopped 6 opponents by knockout and 2 more by sub. After back to back defeats to start his UFC tenure, he finally right the ship with his first trip to the scorecards.

He will have a 5″ reach advantage.

The Russian has shown a willingness to hit the mat, landing 5 takedowns over his last 2 fights. His fight IQ is a bit of a question mark. He lost a point for repeatedly grabbing the cage in his last fight and his ground heavy attack got him subbed by Tyson Pedro.

On the feet, Saparbek can do damage but tends to be wild and leaves himself open to taking a lot of damage.

He is making his Middleweight division which could help him to hold a physical edge over his opponent. Vieira also spent some time at 205.

Safarov can make an absolute mess of a fight, throwing wild hooks with fight-ending potential. If he can drag Vieira into a brawl and negate his BJJ skills- that is his best chance to win. For the Brazilian, look for him to counter the wild aggression with level changes and ground control. Safarov will slow down as the fight progresses (if it progresses) and that will open him up further to the mat attack of Rodolfo- my prediction is Rodolfo Vieira to defeat Saparbek Safarov by submission.

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185lbs- Gerald Meerschaert vs Deron Winn

With 9 UFC fights under his belt, Gerald (GM3) Meerschaert (29-12-0) opens the televised portion of the UFC 248 prelims. “GM3″ has is 5-4 inside the Octagon. After a strong start, he has just 1 win over his last 4 outings.

With a submission heavy record, Meerschaert clearly does his best work on the mat. In his last fight, a combination of his opponent’s defense and his unwillingness to shoot force Meerschaert to spend the majority of the contest on his feet.

It resulted in his 2nd split decision loss in as many trips to the scorecards as a UFC fighter.

Deron Winn’s (6-1-0) sophomore appearance in the UFC also produced a split decision- the first loss of his career. Despite recording 6-takedowns, Winn was unable to convince the judges that he had done enough.

Despite coming from a strong wrestling background, Winn relied on his striking against a potential submission threat in his debut. He put up triple digits in a solid decision victory over Eric Spicely.

At just 5’6”, Winn is 7-inches shorter than his foe and will give up a similar 7-inches of reach. He trains alongside Daniel Cormier and offers some similarities inside the cage.

Meerschaert is a bit of a slow starter, but has he shown the ability to rally and closeout opponents- especially if they fade. Winn missed weight, faded, and didn’t have a good finish in his loss to Darren Stewart. His takedowns were devoid of any top position damage which was a contributor to his downfall. Winn’s debut performance is the ideal way to fight “GM3”. Counter wrestling to stay away from the subs and volume striking. Look for Winn to put avoid the grappling of his foe and outwork him with constant striking over the duration of the fight- my prediction is Deron Winn to defeat Gerald Meerschaert by decision.

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115lbs- Polyana Viana vs Emily Whitmire

The final fight on the undercard features American Emily Whitmire (4-3-0) looking to rebound from her first loss as a UFC Strawweight. Whitmire made the cut after her debut and promptly picked up back to back wins but then ran into the streaking Amanda Ribas and fell via middle-frame submission.

Whitmire has been submitted in all 3 of her per losses but has also found success on the mat in both of her Octagon wins.

Brazil’s Polyana Viana (10-4-0) will look to capitalize on her foe’s deficiencies on the mat. A talented BBJ practitioner, Viana has recorded 60% of her pro wins by sub- including 4 armbars.

Viana is coming off a shocking submission defeat and has had issues with fights escape the first round- she is 0-3 in decisions.

The cardio of Polyana has been a concern at times and in some of her fights, her lack of commitment to her grappling has been an issue as well. Her return to Strawweight could give her a physical edge over her opponent in close.

A fighter on a 3-fight losing skid often comes into their next fight with a sense of desperation. While that might be the case for Viana, beyond her debut she hasn’t shown that she has the ability to win at this level. The clear concern for Whitmire is the grappling of her foe and Emily’s past issues with submission defense. Whitmire needs to be mindful early, but when Viana begins to slow Whitmire will start to find more success anywhere this fight goes. Whitmire is no slouch on the mat and could put Viana in some bad spots as well- my prediction is Emily Whitmire to defeat Polyana Viana by decision.

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145lbs- Jamall Emmers vs Giga Chikadze

Originally scheduled to fight a week earlier, Giga Chikadze’s (8-2-0) fight with Mike Davis fell through and he stepped in to fill the void against the debuting Jamall Emmers (17-4-0)

Giga’s split decision debut victory over Brandon Davis extended his winning streak to 3. On the regional scene, he spent time under the Gladiator banner, facing some extremely low-level competition.

A talent kickboxer, Chikadze does the majority of his work on the feet and will need to avoid getting taken down. He had some issues with Davis on the mat early but found more defensive success as the fight advanced.

Emmers has a 2-1 edge in MMA experience, fighting in variety of organizations. His only loss over his last 9 fights came to Julian Erosa in his Contender’s opportunity- he has won 4 straight since.

Offering a nice combo of striking and wrestling, Emmers has 7 wins by knockout- but has also been knocked out twice. Emmers may have an advantage later in the fight as he is 7-1 in decisions and has a trio of 3rd round knockouts.

In addition to getting stopped by Erosa, he was also knocked out my Thiago Moises in the 5th round of a 2016 RFA title fight.

Chikadze was able to narrowly overcome Davis with his volume on the feet. Emmers has the skills to hold his own standing and dominate on the mat. The big issue with Jammall is that he tends to forgo his wrestling at times in favour of a striking based attack. He is coming off the 3rd submission win of his career which is encouraging. Emmers will eliminate the striking skills of Giga with his wrestling- my prediction is Jamall Emmers to defeat Giga Chikadze by submission.

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135lbs- Danaa Batgerel vs Guido Cannetti

Argentina’s Guido Cannetti (8-4-0) has alternated wins and losses over the first 5-fights of his UFC career, most recently falling via submission to Marlon Vera. Guido is an aggressive fighter, finishing 6 of his 8 wins. He has also been submitted in all 4 of his pro defeats.

Only 4 of Cannetti’s 12 fight have gone beyond the opening round- he is 2-2 in those fights.

He is 10-years old than his foe.

Mongolia’s Danna Batgerel (7-2-0) debuted in mid-2019, dropping a decision to Heili Alatang but earning a Fight of the Night bonus. Batgerel offered a decent level of output, more than doubling up his opponent’s striking volume but struggling to stay off his back.

The trio of takedowns given up by Batgerel are concerning when considering Cannetti has had success taking down each of his UFC opponents.

Cannetti tends to start fast and fade. In both of his wins, his opponents were unable to mount much of a counter push and Guido’s limit offensive output held up. Batgerel pushes a pretty steady pace and is relatively durable. He will need to survive the early surge by the Argentinian, get off his back when taken down, and capitalize on Cannetti’s faltering cardio- my prediction is Danaa Batgerel to defeat Guido Cannetti by submission.

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115lbs- Polyana Viana vs Emily Whitmire

The final fight on the undercard features American Emily Whitmire (4-3-0) looking to rebound from her first loss as a UFC Strawweight. Whitmire made the cut after her debut and promptly picked up back to back wins but then ran into the streaking Amanda Ribas and fell via middle-frame submission.

Whitmire has been submitted in all 3 of her per losses but has also found success on the mat in both of her Octagon wins.

Brazil’s Polyana Viana (10-4-0) will look to capitalize on her foe’s deficiencies on the mat. A talented BBJ practitioner, Viana has recorded 60% of her pro wins by sub- including 4 armbars.

Viana is coming off a shocking submission defeat and has had issues with fights escape the first round- she is 0-3 in decisions.

The cardio of Polyana has been a concern at times and in some of her fights, her lack of commitment to her grappling has been an issue as well. Her return to Strawweight could give her a physical edge over her opponent in close.

A fighter on a 3-fight losing skid often comes into their next fight with a sense of desperation. While that might be the case for Viana, beyond her debut she hasn’t shown that she has the ability to win at this level. The clear concern for Whitmire is the grappling of her foe and Emily’s past issues with submission defense. Whitmire needs to be mindful early, but when Viana begins to slow Whitmire will start to find more success anywhere this fight goes. Whitmire is no slouch on the mat and could put Viana in some bad spots as well- my prediction is Emily Whitmire to defeat Polyana Viana by decision.

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145lbs- Jamall Emmers vs Giga Chikadze

Originally scheduled to fight a week earlier, Giga Chikadze’s (8-2-0) fight with Mike Davis fell through and he stepped in to fill the void against the debuting Jamall Emmers (17-4-0)

Giga’s split decision debut victory over Brandon Davis extended his winning streak to 3. On the regional scene, he spent time under the Gladiator banner, facing some extremely low-level competition.

A talent kickboxer, Chikadze does the majority of his work on the feet and will need to avoid getting taken down. He had some issues with Davis on the mat early but found more defensive success as the fight advanced.

Emmers has a 2-1 edge in MMA experience, fighting in variety of organizations. His only loss over his last 9 fights came to Julian Erosa in his Contender’s opportunity- he has won 4 straight since.

Offering a nice combo of striking and wrestling, Emmers has 7 wins by knockout- but has also been knocked out twice. Emmers may have an advantage later in the fight as he is 7-1 in decisions and has a trio of 3rd round knockouts.

In addition to getting stopped by Erosa, he was also knocked out my Thiago Moises in the 5th round of a 2016 RFA title fight.

Chikadze was able to narrowly overcome Davis with his volume on the feet. Emmers has the skills to hold his own standing and dominate on the mat. The big issue with Jammall is that he tends to forgo his wrestling at times in favour of a striking based attack. He is coming off the 3rd submission win of his career which is encouraging. Emmers will eliminate the striking skills of Giga with his wrestling- my prediction is Jamall Emmers to defeat Giga Chikadze by submission.

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135lbs- Danaa Batgerel vs Guido Cannetti

Argentina’s Guido Cannetti (8-4-0) has alternated wins and losses over the first 5-fights of his UFC career, most recently falling via submission to Marlon Vera. Guido is an aggressive fighter, finishing 6 of his 8 wins. He has also been submitted in all 4 of his pro defeats.

Only 4 of Cannetti’s 12 fight have gone beyond the opening round- he is 2-2 in those fights.

He is 10-years old than his foe.

Mongolia’s Danna Batgerel (7-2-0) debuted in mid-2019, dropping a decision to Heili Alatang but earning a Fight of the Night bonus. Batgerel offered a decent level of output, more than doubling up his opponent’s striking volume but struggling to stay off his back.

The trio of takedowns given up by Batgerel are concerning when considering Cannetti has had success taking down each of his UFC opponents.

Cannetti tends to start fast and fade. In both of his wins, his opponents were unable to mount much of a counter push and Guido’s limit offensive output held up. Batgerel pushes a pretty steady pace and is relatively durable. He will need to survive the early surge by the Argentinian, get off his back when taken down, and capitalize on Cannetti’s faltering cardio- my prediction is Danaa Batgerel to defeat Guido Cannetti by submission.

 

UFN 169

155lbs- Steve Garcia vs Luis Pena

A second split decision defeat dropped Luis Pena’s (7-2-0) UFC record to 3-2. He put together a solid effort against Matt Frevola, landing more volume and the more impactful offense, but gave up 4 takedowns.

Pena is a creative fighter that offers a lot of different techniques both standing and on the mat. His above-average length makes him difficult to deal with in all areas, including a strong mat game from both top and bottom position.

That being said, he has been taken down at least once in each of his UFC fights and has given up multiple takedowns in 3 of his 5 fights.

Steve Garcia (11-3-0) is making his debut on 5-days notice, with roughly a week to prepare. He has some quality experience, taking 7 fights under the Bellator banner and a 2019 Summer win on the Contender Series. He earned 4-straight wins with Bellator before a 1-2 stretch capped by a loss to Joe Warren ended his time with the company.

Garcia has finished 8 of his 11 wins by knockout. He showcased good finishing skills on the Contender Series, hurting his foe and following with a barrage that eventually overwhelmed his foe.

At 6’0″ tall, he will give up 3 inches of height to Pena, but their reach is equal at 75″. Garcia missed weight for his Contender Series bout and has bounced around between Bantamweight Featherweight.

The lack of prep time for Garcia is a major concern. Potentially equally as concerning, he will be the smaller/shorter man which is something he is not used to. Pena needs to be mindful of Garcia’s power, but he should have a decent edge in the grappling and range striking. Look for Pena to take this fight to the floor and land heavy top position offense- my prediction is Luis Pena to defeat Steve Garcia by TKO.

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135lbs- Kyler Phillips vs Gabriel Silva

A debut decision defeat to former Flyweight title challenger Ray Borg ended the undefeated start to the career of Gabriel Silva (8-1-0). Gabriel is the younger brother of former UFC competitor Erick Silva.

Silva’s loss to Borg was a back and forth battle, contested primarily on the mat. Silva won the majority of the positions in round 1 while Borg found more success in rounds 2 and 3. Similar to his brother, Silva has been known to slow in more demanding fights.

Back in 2017, Kyler Phillips (6-1-0) scored a 46 second knockout on the Contender’s Series, but it wasn’t enough to get the immediate call to the Octagon. He also participated on the Ultimate Figther. After suffering the first loss of his career, a 2018 split decision defeat he returned to LFA to pick up his 4th pro win by knockout.

After fighting 5-times over his first 2 years as a pro, Phillips has struggled to remain active. He competed once in each of 2017 and 2018.

Phillips’s most recent win came via nasty head kick, wrapping his leg around the back of his opponent’s head and dropping him to the floor.

Silva held his own against Borg who has routinely proven to be a handful at both 135 and 125 pounds. He got the better of the grappling exchanges early, but slowed down which could be a concern here against Phillips. This stands to be a close fight early, with both figthers trading on the feet. As the fight advances and Silva slows, look for Phillips to find more success allowing him to take control and potentially set up a finish- my prediciton is Kyler Phillips to defeat Gabriel Silva by TKO.

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185lbs- Brendan Allen vs Tom Breese

Brendan Allen (13-3-0) made the most of his debut with a middle-round submission win over Kevin Holland. He has won 5 in a row including a trio of submission victories- he has 8 tap outs as a pro.

Allen’s offense is built around closing the gap, clinching, and eventually dragging his foe to the mat. Against Holland, once on the mat, he was aggressive in pursuit of a dominant position. This both led to some strong positions, but also out Brendan in a few bad spots on his back.

Former Welterweight Tom Breese (11-1-0), is closing in on 2-years out of action after making his 185-pound debut. His Middleweight start began against the overachieving Aussie Dan Kelly- the Brit ended the bout via knockout inside round 1.

Breese landed a well-timed uppercut to send his opponent to the floor before finishing him with ground strikes.

Despite relying primarily on his striking in the UFC, Breese actually has more submission than knockout wins. He has yet to complete a takedown in the UFC and has stopped over 70% of his opponent’s TDAs.

This is a close fight with both fighters holding specific advantages. Allen is a slightly longer fighter and carries a more active pace. He has also been more active, fighting 5-times since Tom last competed. Breese is the better striker, hits harder, and puts up a better defensive front. If the Brit fades under the pressure of Allen, the American could finish him or take a wide decision. Conversely, Allen’s willingness to put himself in bad spots when engaging will cost him. Breese will hold superior position on the mat and win the majority of the exchange on the feet- my prediction is Tom Breese to defeat Brendan Allen by decision.

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265lbs- Sergey Spivac vs Marcin Tybura

With wins in 3 of his first 4 UFC outings and a strong main event performance against Fabricio Werdum, Marcin Tybura (17-6-0) appeared poised to make a run into contention. Unfortunately, losses in 4 of his last 5 fights have put the Polish fighter’s UFC career in jeopardy.

Marcin fell via late TKO against Derrick Lewis, in a fight he was potentially winning. He has been stopped via strikes in each of his last 2 fights, pushing his career total to 4 knockout defeats and raising concerns about his durability.

At his best, Tybura throws respectable striking volume, with a decent kicking attack and will mix in some clinch and takedown control.

Moldova’s Sergey Spivac’s (10-1-0) debut lasted less than a minute, but he rallied from the first loss of his career to score an upset of Tai Tuivasa to level his UFC recorded at 1-1.

“The Polar Bear” has stopped all 10 of his pro wins inside the distance- 8 before the end of round 1. The majority of his success against Tai Tuivasa came on the mat, landing takedowns and eventually working towards a submission.

Spivac is 10 years younger than his foe and roughly 10 to 12 pounds heavier.

Tybura’s lack of durability is a major concern against the aggressive forward push of his opponent. Spivac is younger and heavier than Tybura which further adds to the concern of how Tybura will hold up in a firefight. Marcin has struggled to mount much offense or defense in recent action while Sergey is coming off a strong performance. Look for the Moldovan to overwhelm is foe early- my prediction is Sergey Spivak to defeat Marcin Tybura by TKO.

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145lbs- TJ Brown vs Jordan Griffin

Back to back decision defeats to UFC veterans Dan Ige and Chas Skelly has the “Native Psycho” in desperate need of a win. Jordan Griffin (17-7-0) came into the UFC on the strength of 4 consecutive submission wins with his last 8 wins coming inside the distance.

While Griffin has proven himself as a dangerous grappler on the regional scene, he has struggled on the mat at the UFC-level. Both of his opponents have utilized grappling heavy assaults in their victories over Griffin.

A 20-fight veteran, TJ Brown (14-6-0) has competed under the LFA and RFA banners, and with a Contender Series win to capstone a 4-fight winning streak.

With 9 of his 14 wins by submission, he has showcased a strong finish game on the mat with 6 wins by arm-triangle and a trio of RNCs.

In his last fight, Brown survived an early knockdown and landed an illegal knee late in round 1. For the majority of the contest, he dominated with a strong takedown attack and active transition game before securing the submission finish.

Brown has been finished on 5 occasions, 3 by knockout. This certainly raises some concerns regarding his durability. Conversely, his ability to engage his foe on the mat and work out of bad spots doesn’t bode well for Griffin’s struggles on the mat. This contest stands to be very entertaining, but ultimately Brown will hold the positional edge on the mat leading to a finish- my prediction is TK Brown to defeat Jordan Griffin by submission.

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145lbs- Spike Carlyle vs Aalon Cruz

Contender’s Series graduate Aalon Cruz (8-2-0) was set to make his debut in the Octagon against Steven Peterson, but instead of the 5-fight UFC veteran, the Florida-native draws another debuting opponent.

While his Contender’s victory was punctuated with a beautiful flying knee knockout, Cruz utilized a kick heavy offense throughout the contest. He worked in snapping low kicks, but also targeted the body and head with round and straight kicks.

He has finished 4 opponents, is undefeated on the scorecards at 4-0, and both defeats have come via submission.

Including a victory at LFA 74, Spike Carlyle (8-1-0) went 3-0 in 2019. He has finished 7 of his 8 opponents, 4 by knockouts- 6 in the opening round.

Spike is aggressive and he will need to use that aggression to overcome a massive length disadvantage. Cruz is 4-inches taller and will have a 7″ longer reach. He maintains a persistent wrestling centric attack, latching onto a single leg and working various techniques until they hit the floor.

In his LFA appearance, he scored a beautiful spinning back fist KO.

If Cruz can maintain his preferred distance against “The Alpha Ginger”, he will pick him apart with kicks. Conversely, the forward pressure of Carlyle could nullify his opponent’s desired striking technique once he closes that gap. Cruz’s volume is an area of concern, especially if he can’t keep his aggressive opponent at bay. The 2 submission losses suggests that Aalon is vulnerable on the mat. Cruz will outwork his opponent for the duration of the fight, pushing a strong pace with multiple takedowns- my prediction is Spike Carlyle to defeat Aalon Cruz by decision.

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170lbs- Sean Brady vs Ismail Naurdiev

After an upset of Michel Prazeres in his short-notice debut, Ismail Naurdiev (19-3-0) has compiled a 1-1 record- most recently besting the heavy-handed Siyar Bahadurzada.

“The Austrian Wonderboy” authored a strong performance against Siyar, coupling a pressure-based striking attack and timely takedowns to control the majority of the fight. Conversely, in his only UFC defeat, his foe forced Ismail into grappling exchanges that routinely forced him to his back.

In a similarly strong debut, Sean Brady (11-0-0) defeated long-time veteran and TUF winner Court McGee. Brady scored a knockdown early in the fight which set the stage for a decision win.

The decision-heavy record of Brady, 6 of 11 win on the scorecards, has been a point of criticism for Brady.

The former CFFC Welterweight champion showcased his speed against McGee and put forth an impressive volume (119 significant strikes).

Both fighters have a diversified skillset that allows them to compete anywhere the fight goes. The key differences will be speed and activity rate. In both wins, Naurdiev benefited from opponents that slowed down and were far less active then he was. Brady pushes a more aggressive pace and has showcased the ability to wrestle when needed. If Naurdiev is unable to land something significant to change the complexion of the fight, Brady outworks- my prediction is Sean Brady to defeat Ismail Naurdiev by decision.

UFN 168

155lbs- Josh Culibao vs Jalin Turner

An upset loss to Matt Frevola slowed the momentum of talented striker Jalin Turner (8-5-0). He will need to overcome an opponent alteration as James Mullarkey withdrew from there bout with roughly 3 weeks to go.

Turner decimated fellow undercarder Callen Potter after a rough short notice Welterweight debut against Vicente Luque. Turner has recorded 7 wins by knockout, but he has also been knocked out 3 times.

In his loss to Frevola, Jalin struggled to match the pace and worth ethic of his foe. He slowed as the fight went and he gave up multiple takedowns.

A natural Featherweight, Josh Culibao (8-0-0) answered the call on short notice. He has fought just once in each of his last 2 years as a pro. He has some championship fight experience with a trio of fights going into the 4th and 5th rounds.

Of his 8 wins, 5 have come by knockout. Culibao has a decent handle on his technical striking skills and throws with power. With  2 late fight knockouts in rounds 4 and 5, he has demonstrated the ability to carry his power deep into contests.

Turner has a length advantage over most Lightweights and while Culibao is far from undersized, he is better suited for the 145 pound division. If he can routinely get on the inside of Turner’s reach, he could test his questionable chin that has led to a trio of knockout defeats. Instead, look for Turner to find success land offense at distance, using speed and distance to augment his power- my prediction is Jaline Turner to defeat Josh Culibao by knockout.

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170lbs- Jake Matthews vs Emil Meek

TUF Nations alumni Jake Matthews (15-4-0) returns to New Zealand for the first time since his UFC debut. His 2017 return to Welterweight has offer good results with 4 wins in 5 outings.

“The Celtic Kid” has built a larger portion of his offense around his takedowns. While he has improved his striking, his ability to put his opponent on the mat is key to his success.

He has completed takedowns in 6 of his 8 wins.

The takedown defense of Norway’s Emil Meek (9-4-0 1NC) has been at the heart of his struggles inside the Octagon. He has relinquished 17 takedowns over 3-fights, including 14 over his last 2 outings.

It is worth noting that 8 of those takedowns came against the current Welterweight champion.

Meek has not competed in nearly 2-years.

The Norweigan has power, but his ability to deploy it will be limited by his inability to stay vertical. Matthews is coming off a fight where he focussed more on his striking, but this pairing calls for a return to his greatest strength. The Aussie will repeatedly take Meek to the mat, work his top control game, and look for an opening to finish. There should be potential for Jake to set up his patented rear-naked choke, my prediction is Jake Matthews to defeat Emil Meek by submission.

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170lbs- Song Kenan vs Callan Potter

A violent 53-second debut defeat for Australia’s Callan Potter (18-8-0) gave way to a hard-fought victory over Maki Pitolo in his second outing.

The 35-year old Potter turned pro in 2011, and finally got the call to the UFC as a short-notice replacement. Potter has finished 16 of his 18 wins- 10 by submission. Despite his reputation as a grappling-first fighter, Potter put forth a strong striking performance at Pitolo. He mixed in some grappling, but did a decent job engaging him on the feet.

Potter has been finished in all 8 of his pro fights- split evenly between knockouts and submissions.

Chinese fighter Song Kenan (15-5-0) came into the UFC having lost back to back pro bouts, but promptly righted the ship with a pair of Octagon wins. A loss to Alex Morono and win over Derrick Krantz sees him at 3-1 in the promotion.

Song has finished 13 opponents, 7 by knockout, and 2 in the UFC. He has fought 17 of his 20 pro bouts in China.

Offering a nice mix of boxing and kicks, Song utilized a technically sound attack against Krantz- winning the majority of the exchanges.

Song’s only UFC loss came against a striking based fighter that was able to outwork him, Potter is not that. Callan did look decent on the feet against Pitolo, but it had a lot to do with a lack of defense and poor gas tank. Song should win the majority of the vertical exchanges. Potter might opt to try and take Song off his feet as Kenan has had a few issues on the mat. The durability of Potter is very concerning, especially considering Song’s finishing rate. Song will force Potter to stay vertical, eventually hurting him during an exchange- my prediction is Kenan Song to defeat Callan Potter by TKO

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125lbs- Kai Kara-France vs Tyson Nam

New Zealand Flyweight contender and TUF alumni Kai Kara-France (20-8-0 1NC) was unable to finish 2019 on a winning-not dropping a decision to Brandon Moreno. The loss ended his 8-fight winning streak.

Kara-France started his Octagon occupation with a trio of wins. During his strong UFC start, the New Zealander showcased a solid striking repertoire mixing together good volume with some respectable pop. He has finished 9 opponents by knockout.

While his volume has been good, he has also relinquished nearly 4 significant strikes per minute which is a concern.

After turning pro in 2006, Tyson Nam (18-10-1) finally got the call to the UFC on short notice. Nam was unable to get the better of now Bellator-fighter Sergio Pettis, dropping a unanimous decision.

Nam has power, stopping 10 opponents by knockout. Tyson is the taller man by 3-inches, by KKF will have a 1″ reach advantage.

The issue surrounding Nam is his lack of urgency. He has power but often allows his opponent to dictate the striking exchanges. His 7-7 record in decisions and 96-40 striking stats against Pettis are indicative of this style.

This is a bad stylistic matchup for Nam. That doesn’t mean he can’t win, but he will most likely need a knockout. Kara-France offers too much volume and could potentially augment his striking with a well-placed takedown. Nam’s power is solid, but Kai has proven durable and more vulnerable to fighters that can match his pace. Fighting at home will push Kai to his best performance yet, my prediction is Kai Kara-France to defeat Tyson Nam by decision.[/Body]

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115lbs- Angela Hill vs Loma Lookboonmee

With Hannah Goldy injured, Angela “Overkill” Hill (11-7-0) continues her high frequency of activity, taking her 6th fight in under a 12-month span- she has won 3 of 5.

Hill began her 2nd UFC tenure with 7 of 8 fights going to the scorecards, but more recently she has found her finishing touch with back to back TKO stoppage wins.

A striking based-fighter, “Overkill” utilizes a lot of movement in her attack, bouncing in and out while deploying a high volume striking arsenal. She averages just shy of 6 significant strikes per minute.

Coming from a strong Muay Thai background, Loma Lookboonmee (4-1-0) will most likely oblige Hill on the feet. She is coming off of an impressive debut performance that saw her total 99 significant strikes, including a series of hard low kicks.

In addition to her range attack, she landed a number of hard knees to the body from the clinch position.

Loma is the smaller fighter and will need to overcome a slight length advantage for Hill. If Hill can keep her at range, that will help her to outpoint the Thai fighter. While Lookboonmee is a striker, she has showcased a capable wrestling attack which could serve to augment her striking and throw off Hill’s timing. Angela will struggle with the speed of her foe and the clinch strikes to the body will impact her gas tank. This stands to be a close fight, but Loma will put together a stronger sophomore appearance- my prediction is Loma Lookboonme to defeat Angela Hill by decision.

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170lbs- Maki Pitolo vs Takashi Sato

Promotional sophomore Maki Pitolo (12-5-0) came up short in his debut, dropping a decision in Australia to Callan Potter. He had previously won a trio of bouts all inside the distance.

“Coconut Bombs” has recorded 6 wins by knockout and 9 finishes overall. That being said, it is concerning that Potter has been finished in all 8 of his pro defeats and Maki was unable to get him out of there.

Pitolo’s boxing looked decent, but he was eating far too many punches and clearly tired as a result of the pace and damage.

With 10-wins by knockout Takashi Sato (15-3-0) showcased his stopping skills in his debut, putting down Ben Saunders early in round 2.

Similar to Pitolo, he is coming off a fight where he slowed in the latter stages contributing to his defeat.

For a fighter that bases their attack around their striking, Takashi doesn’t throw with a lot of volume. Equally as concerning, he was hurt in his final pre-UFC fight, in his debut, and Belal Muhammad was able to wobble him last time out.

Pitolo’s debut raises some red flags, but it could also be attributed to Octagon jitters. The Hawaiian is the more active striker, but he needs to be mindful of his opponents’ power. Sato has been knocked out once, but if Pitolo is able to land flush he could add to that total. Takashi’s lack of volume will allow Maki to push the pace and fight his style- mixing his punches to the head and body- my prediction is Maki Pitolo to defeat Takashi Sato by TKO.

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125lbs- Priscila Cachoeira vs Shana Dobson

The first fight of the night features TUF 26 alumni Shana Dobson (3-3-0) attempting to even her UFC record a 2-2. After a successful UFC debut, Dobson has struggled to remain active, fighting just twice since the start of 2018- losing both.

In Dobson’s most recent outing she got tagged to the body early and hurt, but she was able to survive until the bell- dropping a wide decision.

Stepping up on short notice, Priscila Cachoeira (8-3-0) is still in search of her first UFC win. At 0-3 inside the Octagon, she could be fighting for her spot on the roster. She drew a difficult debut, getting mauled by pre-championship Valentina Shevchenko.

She is an aggressive, wading forward and tossing out heavy leather. Conversely, her willingness to move forward and throw wide striking techniques opens her up for taking damage.

On the regional scene, the Brazilian found success overwhelming her for on the feet leading to 4 knockout wins.

Cachoeira’s all offense mentality coupled with short notice and the travel factor could further compromise her already questionable durability. Dobson is the better striker and will punish her foe for moving forward too frequently with her hands down. The first round will be a back and forth scrap, but look for Dobson to find increasing success as the bout advances and her foe tires- my prediction is Shana Dobson to defeat Priscila Cachoeira by decision.

UFN 167

170lbs- Tim Means vs Daniel Rodriguez

Not to be left out of the injury parade, “The Dirty Bird” Tim Means (29-11-1 1NC) will also make the walk to the cage to square off with a late notice replacement. Means was in need of a strong performance and got it with a guillotine choke out of former title challenger Thiago Alves.

Traditionally, Tim does his best work on the feet with a lethal Muay Thai striking attack. Unfortunately, in his last defeat, a strong start against Niko Price gave way to a first-round knockout that also resulted in a broken leg.

Means has had issue with opponents that attempt to take him down and he is also prone to fighting close contests where he has struggled to convince the judges that he is worthy of the nod.

A natural Lightweight, Daniel Rodriguez (10-1-0) is replacing Ramazan Emeev on short notice. A mid-2019 decision on the Contenders Series extended his streak to 5-straight victories but it was enough to get the call to the big show.

He secured 1 more regional win to round out 2019.

With the majority of his wins coming by stoppage, including 6 by knockout (just 3 in round 1) Rodriguez has demonstrated strong finishing instincts. His last 3 non-Contenders opponents offer a combined record of 39-46.

Despite moving up a division, he will stand just an inch shorter with a 1″ reach deficit against Means.

Means needs to be mindful of not having a let down in the wake of his opponent change. Rodriguez is tough, durable, and hits hard. If he clips Means, Tim could be going down. That being said, the newcomer can get overzealous and sloppy, opening opportunities for Means to go to work. Tim is the bigger man with a full camp behind him. Look for Rodriguez to hold his own, but Means ultimately gets the nod in a slugfest- my prediction is Tim Means to defeat Daniel Rodriguez by decision.

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135lbs- John Dodson vs Nathaniel Wood

Representing the veteran portion of a prospect versus battle harden veteran showdown, former Flyweight title Challenger John Dodson (20-11-0) enters the cage having lost back to back bouts and 3 of his last 4.

Dodson as faced top-flight competition during his current skid, but it certainly can be argued that he has taken a step back from prime. He is 35-years old and lighter weight fighters that rely on speed tend to age quicker.

“The Magician’s” UFC success has been highlight by solid TDD, speed, and punching power. Dodson has knocked out 9 opponents, but none since 2016. More recently, he has struggled to match his opponents’ vertical output and his elusive striking style has equated to his opponent’s doing more work on the feet.

Dodson is 2-5 in his last 7 decisions including winning just 1 of 3 splits.

British fighter Nathaniel Wood’s (16-3-0) success has been grounded in his submission skills. A trio of UFC tap outs has pushed his overall total to 5. On the regional scene, he had knocked out 4 straight opponents before getting the calls.

A knock on Wood (yes, on purpose) has been his willingness to take damage. He has been knocked out once and rocked in a couple of his UFC fights. Similar to his mentor Brad Pickett, he is more than willing to stand and trade at the expense of his defense.

Dodson’s level of competition has been stiff, to say the least. Where does the Brit fit into the equation? If Nathaniel can pressure John and outwork him that will be his key to success. The lack of grappling that Wood will be able to incorporate is a concern. Look for Dodson to land a decent amount of offense against the defensively vulnerable foe, potentially finding a home for his big left. A split or contentious decision is certainly possible- but my prediction is John Dodson to defeat Nathaniel Wood by decision.

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155lbs- Scott Holtzman vs Jim Miller

On the strength of back to back wins and a trio of victories over his last four outings, New Jersey’s Jim Miller (31-13-0 1NC) remains a difficult task for the majority of the Lightweight division even 12-years removed from his debut.

Miller has returned to his grappling roots, submitting his foe in each of his last 3 victories. An opportunistic grappler, Miller had completed takedowns in 5 of his 6 previous wins before submitting fellow-veteran Clay Guida.

On the feet, Miller does a decent job targetting his opponent’s mobility with a hard low kick and he has shown improvements in his boxing.

Scott Holtzman (13-3-0) has proven himself to be a constantly improving, but still flawed fighter. He has routinely outclassed his opponents when able to get the upper hand with his striking. Battering his foes on the feet, including a pair of knockout wins in each of his last 2 triumphs.

Conversely, Holtzman has proven vulnerable to capable wrestlers. Nik Lentz was the most recent fighter to ground “Hot Sauce” on route to a decision win.

He has been taken down in 7 of his 9 UFC contests and is 1-3 when giving up at least 2 takedowns.

At bell time, Miller will pull even for the most career UFC appearances. If he can utilize his ground attack, he can make it a successful trip to the cage. Holtzman is the more impactful striker, but his struggles against talented grapplers makes it difficult for him to utilize those skills. This fight is close if it stays vertical, but Miller is the better mat man and that shoes up here- my prediction is Jim Miller to defeat Scott Holtzman by submission.

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205lbs- Devin Clark vs Dequan Townsend

Devin Clark’s (10-4-0) original opponent, Gadzhimurad Antigulov, withdrew from the fight and was replaced by Dequan Townsend on less than 2-weeks notice.

Clark has alternated wins and losses over his last 6 fights, winning a fight, receiving a step up in competition and coming up short. At his best, Clark has some pop in his hands but he has been more successful utilizing his wrestling to stall out his opponent on he cage and from top position.

He nearly upset Alexandar Rakic via knockout, before faltering and getting finished- all inside the opening frame.

Townsend is stepping after fighting less than a month ago in a Middleweight bout. He took his debut outing on short notice, also at Light Heavyweight and was stopped via strikes for the first time in his career.

A veteran fighter with stopping power and a length advantage, Dequan will need to keep Clark on the outside of his reach and do damage. In his debut, he struggled with the takedown heavy approach of his opponent prior to getting stopped.

Clark has been finished 4 times, twice by knockout, and his cardio is far from perfect. Towsend has an avenue to victory if he can capitalize on either of these scenarios. Clark is a little undersized at LHW, but he should have no issues muscling Townsend around once he closes the distance. Devin’s wrestling and superior physical attributes will allow him to dictate where the fight takes place. He grinds his foe out on the mat for the majority of the contest- my prediction is Devin Clark to defeat Dequan Townsend by decision.

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135lbs- Merab Dvalishvili vs Casey Kenney

Fresh off back to back upsets of Ray Borg and Manny Bermudez, Casey Kenney (13-1-1) will face another difficult ground-based opponent.

Despite spending the majority of his UFC tenure on the mat against talented grapplers, Kenney surprisingly escaped both bouts with upset wins. While he was able to complete 4 takedowns, he also gave up 10 completions. Against Bermudez, he was able to counter Manny’s attempts to set up his subs and work to a superior position.

Volume-based wrestling has been the primary focus of Merab Davalishvili (9-4-0). He averages an astronomical 6.75 takedowns per fight and has taken down each of his 4 opponents.

In a similar fashion to Kenny’s UFC opposition, Dvalishvili was able to utilize his wrestling for the duration of the fight, but he struggled to find much success with his top control. More recently, he has been able to convert his takedowns to prolonged top control.

Dvalishvili’s ability to land takedowns will be his key to success- as per usual. Conversely, Kenney’s success will come down to how often he can get back to his feet or scramble to a better position and score with his hands. Kenny’s wins have been narrow and giving up multiple takedowns will eventually catch-up to a fighter. Dvalishvili will be relentless with his wrestling and Kenney won’t be able to make up the gap- my prediction is Merab Dvalishvili to defeat Casey Kenney by decision.

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135lbs- Macy Chiasson vs Shanna Young

With former Flyweight Champion Nicco Montano pulling out during fight week, TUF winner Macy Chiasson (5-1-0) will face a new opponent as he looks to rebound from her first career defeat.

Chiasson turned heads with a trio of finishes to begin her UFC tenure, but an upset loss to Lina Lansberg has slowed her momentum. Macy had demonstrated a multi-faceted finishing touch- capable of putting her opponent away with strikes and via sub.

She should be considerably larger than her foe, standing 4-inches taller and competing formerly at 145-pounds while her foe has fought at 125 before.

Shanna Young (7-2-0) is stepping up with less than a week to prepare. She has fought twice under the Invicta banner, winning once and lost her 2019 Contenders bout by round 2 submission.

Young’s gritty and willing to mix it up, but she is defensively vulnerable.

In her Contenders’ defeat, she was eating some big shots on the feet and routinely getting the worst of the grappling exchanges.

Young is tough, but the short notice debut and size/physicality issue present by Chiasson is simply too much for her to overcome. Macy should come out motivated after the first defeat of her pro career. Whether it be on the feet or from top position, Chiasson should be able to pile up the damage until her foe relents- my prediction is Macy Chiasson to defeat Shanna Young by TKO.

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125lbs- Mark De La Rosa vs Raulian Paiva

Back to back losses has Texas-born Mark De La Rosa (11-3-0) reeling after a respectable start to his Octagon career. “Bumblebee” offers a grappling heavy-attack, recording 6 wins by submission including 1 in the UFC.

De La Rosa does his best work on the mat, but he capable of holding his own on the feet. He has just a single win by knockout but throws decent short-range punching combinations and effective low kicks.

A common theme in De La Rosa’s defeats have been his inability to take his opponents down.

Mark is the husband of main card competitor Montana De La Rosa.

Similar to his opponent, Brazilian Raulian Paiva (18-3-0) comes into this fight following back to back defeats. An area of concern for Paiva has to be his TDD, as he has given up 4 takedowns in just under 18-minutes of cage time.

He has defended 8 of 12 TDAs in that span.

Paiva is coming off a loss due to a cut against Rogerio Bontorin and a questionable split decision loss to Kai Kara-France. Paiva was previously 12-0 in decisions.

The Brazilian’s girlfriend was killed in a motorcycle accident prior to his UFC debut and he got a couple of tough breaks in the UFC. If De La Rosa can take him down with regularity, he could score a submission or grind out a full 15-minutes. Conversely, Raulian’s TDD has looked good and his ability to scramble out of bad spots will give the American fits. On the feet, the length and striking skills of Paiva will be too much for DLR- my prediction is Raulian Paiva to defeat Mark De La Rosa by decision.

UFC 247

185lbs- Trevin Giles vs James Krause

With less than 24-hours until the fight, Antonio Arroyo has pulled out of his fight and like a badass, James Krause (27-7-0) has stepped up to keep the fight on the card. Krause, a former Lightweight, and current Welterweight is on-site to corner another undercard fighter. He has won 6 in a row including back to back knockout wins.

Krause is 2-inches taller than Giles, but will give up an inch of reach. Some consider Giles, who debuted at LHW, a better fit for 170 pounds.

Against Arroyo, Giles was positioned to win the bout. This is a tough matchup for him.

Krause offers a dangerous submission attack and a pressure-based striking offense that can and will wear him out if executed to its fullest extent.

There is potential that Krause has issues with the short notice, but as a veteran fighter, he will most likely thrive in this scenario.

Look for Krause to be the busier fighter on the feet, back Giles up capitalizing on his passivity. If Giles tries to take him down, Krause will be aggressive and make it work against Trevin.

A stoppage is possible, but my prediction is James Krause to defeat Trevin Giles by decision.

 

185lbs- Antonio Arroyo vs Trevin Giles-Cancelled

A pair of early UFC KOs have given away to back to back defeats for the suddenly faltering Trevin Giles (11-2-0). Giles’ has faced a pair of veteran opponents in his last 2 bouts and while he found degrees of success in both contests, he ultimately faltered and was finished in 3rd round of each contest.

Giles’ Fight IQ is a bit of a question mark. He lacks urgency on the feet and has shown a willingness to engage ground-based opponents on the mat.

Despite a 5-fight winning streak, Antonio Arroyo (9-3-0) was unable to channel his regional success to the UFC and dropped a decision to fellow-Brazilian Andre Muniz.

Arroyo is a proven finisher, stopping his opponent in 8 of 9 wins, split evenly between subs and knockouts. In his defeat, he was unable to stay off the mat and spent the majority of the fight on the defensive.

Giles is fighting at home, but his recent struggles are difficult to overlook. His striking passivity and mistakes on the mat create multiple paths for Arroyo to grab the win. If neither man can grab the finish this fight could be close on the card which favours the Texan. Giles is the more likely to secure a couple of key takedowns which could be big in a close contest. Giles finds a return to form and stays busier in a must-win spot at home- my prediction is Trevin Giles to defeat Antonio Arroyo by decision.

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125lbs- Andrea Lee vs Lauren Murphy

A split decision loss to Joanne Calderwood may have slowed her momentum, but Andrea “KGB” Lee (11-3-0) could return to the title conversation with successful outing on Saturday night. Lee was unable to match the striking output of Calderwood, an area she had used to her advantage in previous fights.

Lee, a multi-faceted fighter has landed takedowns in 3 of her 4 Octagon bouts, and when taken down she has shown the ability to routinely get back to her feet.

Lauren Murphy (11-4-0) is coming off a fight that she was arguably behind in entering the final frame before securing her finisher. She has finished her foe in 2 of her 3 UFC wins with the other ending via split decision.

Carrying a negative striking exchange rate, Murphy has been involved in some close fights. Overall, she is 1-3 in fights where she gives up at least a single takedown. Her lone win came via comeback in her last outing.

Lee is fighting at home in Texas which could be significant against an opponent that traditionally is involved in narrow decisions. If Murphy is unable to defend Lee’s takedowns that will put her in a difficult spot consider she will most likely struggle to match the vertical output of the more active Lee. Murph needs to make this fight ugly, but she won’t be vertical long enough to do so- my prediction is Andrea Lee to defeat Lauren Murphy by decision.

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170lbs- Alex Morono vs Kalinn Williams

A late January injury to Dhiego Lima opened the door for Kalinn “Kaos the Ox Fighter” Williams (9-1-0) to get the call to the big show. Williams turned pro in 2017 and has averaged just over 3 fights per year, including 4 contests in 2019.

He has finished 5 opponents, 4 by knockout. Over his last 5 fights, while he has faced experienced opposition, only 1 fighter currently carries an above .500 record.

Countering Williams will be 8-fight UFC veteran Alex “The Great White” Morono (18-5-0 1NC) who is currently riding a 3-fight winning streak. Last time out, he earned a nod on the scorecards over Max Griffin after nearly getting finished on the feet.

At his best, Morono pushes a strong pace inside the Octagon, doing the majority of his work on the feet.

He comes from a strong grappling background, but the majority of his UFC setbacks have come on the mat when his opponent has found success taking him down.

Williams has some power in his hands and could be the more physically gifted athlete, but that is where his advantages end. Morono has a sizable edge in both quantity and quality of experience, he is also fighting at home and doing so on a full camp. He should find success pushing a pace that “Kaos the Ox Fighter” will struggle to match. Morono’s development as a more well-rounded fighter shows up here- my prediction is Alex Morono to defeat Kalinn Williams by TKO.

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135lbs- Miles Johns vs Mario Bautista

A close victory in his debut maintained his perfect record and Miles “Chapo” Johns (10-0-0) will look to continue his run in the opening fight of the televised prelims.

A talented wrestler, Johns battled his way through some tough spots on the mat, with his foe taking his back on multiple occasions. He landed some decent strikes while in a defensive position and hurt his opponent in the final round to punctuate the victory.

Johns has gone the distance in 5 of his last 6- including a pair of victorious split decisions.

A short notice debut defeat to Bantamweight buzzsaw Corey Sandhahen gave way to a strong sophomore performance for Mario Bautista (7-1-0). Mario is coming off just the 2nd decision win of his career- he finished the first 5 opponents of his pro career inside the 10 minutes.

Bautista won an absolute war with Jin Soo Son, utilizing a strong blend of short-range hooks and slashing elbow strikes. He landed 129 significant strikes while giving up 95.

Son was able to take Bautista down on a couple of occasions, but Bautista does offer a dangerous submission game.

There is some concern that Johns didn’t find much success with his wrestling in his debut, that should change here. Look for Johns to capitalize on the aggressive nature of Bautista countering with level changes and heavy top position. Bautista’s stock is a little high after a strong fight against an overachieving opponent. Johns stock is a little lower than it should be- time to cash in, my prediction is Miles Johns to defeat Mario Bautista by decision.

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135lbs- Journey Newson vs Domingo Pilarte

After narrowly escaping a pair of split decisions on the regional scene, Domingo Pilarte (8-2-0) wasn’t able to continue his streak in his UFC debut, failing to convince a 2nd judge that he deserved the victory. Just like in his debut, he will be fighting at home in Texas.

The majority of his debut was spent at close range, in back and forth grappling exchanges. He has secured 4 wins by submission, including his Contender Series victory over Vince Morales.

Pilarte found his greatest success in the final round of the fight, taking and hold his opponent’s back.

In order for Journey Newson (9-2-0) to find success, he will need to overcome a massive length disadvantage. Newson will stand 7-inches shorter than Pilarte to go along with a 6″ reach difference that favours the Texan.

Newson debuted on short notice and faced some questionable pre-UFC competition, but he put forth a decent effort against the danger Ricardo Ramos.

Newson has divided his 9 victories evenly between decisions, submissions, and knockouts.

The length of Pilarte will pose a problem Newson and he doesn’t appear to offer the grappling chops to threaten the Texan on the mat. Conversely, Domingo could find some grappling success- aided by his long limbs. Pilarte is a serviceable striker and has held his own when forced to compete on the feet. Domingo will have home-field advantage which would require Newson to score a stoppage or a dominant decision in order to get the nod. Pilarte has never been finished- my prediction is Domingo Pilarte to defeat Journey Newson by decision.

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135lbs- Andre Ewell vs Jonathan Martinez

Unable to capitalize on an upset of former Bantamweight champion Renan Barao, “Mr. Highlight” Andre Ewell (15-6-0) will attempt to raise his Octagon record above .500. He has suffered 3rd round stoppages in both of his defeats and has been finished in 5 of his 6 pro setbacks.

The lanky Ewell has power and a solid striking repertoire with which to deliver it, but his opponents have had success targetting his shaky TDD and often testing his cardio at the same time.

Unsuccessful in his debut, Jonathan Martinez (11-2-0) has rebounded to secure a pair of wins including the 6th knockout victory of his career.

Martinez could look to exploit Ewell’s TDD issues, but more than likely he will opt for a striking based assault. The majority of his grappling exchanges have been forced by his opponents. His volume game isn’t overwhelming as he will sit back and trade and doing so against a longer opponent could be problematic.

If Martinez opts to deviate from his traditional approach he could work his way to victory on the floor. Conversely, making such a drastic alteration is not always a beneficial approach. Ewell’s combination of power and length makes him difficult to deal with on the feet and he should find success hurting his foe at range. This should be an entertaining battle, my prediction is Andre Ewell to defeat Jonathan Martinez by decision.

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145lbs- Austin Lingo vs Youssef Zalal

A pair of UFC debutants square off, including the undefeated Austin “Lights Out” Lingo (7-0-0) who is making the move to the promotion after an impressive 5-0 run under the LFA banner. Headlining his final LFA appearance, he earned a 25-second knockout- the 3rd of his career.

Lingo is a Texas-native and has fought at home in multiple recent events. He is an aggressive striker with some power in his hands. He has also shown that he can work off his back if taken down.

Zalal offers a more submission centric record with 5 of his 7 wins coming via sub including a pair of Brabo chokes. He has finished all of his opponents, but only 2 in the opening round.

Prior to his final regional win, he suffered back to back setbacks- the first 2 of his career. He went 4-2 fighting in LFA.

There are a lot of parallels to look at between these 2 fighters, but with Lingo fight at home he should have the edge here. Zalal’s TDD is a bit of a question mark and with early prelim fights often ending quickly, that favours the Texas-native. Look for big punch power of “Lights Out” to carry the day- my prediction is Austin Lingo to defeat Youssef Zalal by knockout

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 166

185lbs- Bevon Lewis vs Dequan Townsend

A late notice call to the UFC saw Dequan Townsend (21-9-0) get finished in his Light Heavyweight debut, but he will make the move down to 185-pound for his sophomore appearance. It was his first loss by knockout loss of his career. He is 4-7-0 in decisions.

He struggled to mount much offense in his debut, spending the majority of the fight on his back.

Dequan has won the majority of his fights by knockout (12). When vertical, he utilized a jab followed by a power right but struggled to attack with enough frequency to make it count.

Bevon Lewis (6-2-0) has found success in portions of his UFC run, but at 0-2 he is on the cusp of an early exit. In his debut, he started strong against Uriah Hall and arguably had 2 rounds in his favour before gassing and getting finished in the final 2 frames.

Lewis’s fighting posture and overall style bears a noteworthy resemblance to his training partner- the UFC Light Heavyweight champion.

Unable to land a takedown against Stewart (0 for 5), Lewis might be keen to return to that approach against Townsend. That being said, if he expends too much energy attempting to get the fight to the floor he could suffer another late fight collapse.

Townsend is replacing Alen Amedowki on just over a month’s notice.

After back to back troubling performances, Lewis needs to put something on the table here against a journeyman opponent. Townsend has had enough success knocking out opponents to make him a threat, but those wins were far from this level. The step back in competition will help Lewis to find his footing, as he melds together decent recent striking, clinch-based offense, and some well-timed takedowns- my prediction is Bevon Lewis to defeat Dequan Townsend by decision.

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145lbs- Arnold Allen vs Nik Lentz

Inching closer to the next level of competition, the 26-Year Brit “Almighty” Arnold Allen (15-1-0) has battled his way to a 6-0 start in the UFC, most recently besting former Strikeforce champion and now Bellator competitor Gilbert Melendez.

Against Melendez, Allen put on a striking clinic landing at will and nearly tripling his previous UFC-best striking stats. He varies his techniques between head and body strikes and will mix a nice sequence of kicks to augment his boxing.

Nik Lentz (30-10-1 2NC) returns to Featherweight after a 4-2 run in the division between 2012 and 2015.

Predominantly known for his wrestling, Lentz returns to a division that saw him compile some impressive takedowns stats. Over his 4 wins at FW, he completed 22 of 58 TDAs.

In more recent action, Lentz has focused on a more striking based assault. While his wrestling has remained an ever-present aspect of his offense (average 3 TDs over last 5 wins), he has shown a greater willingness to step into the pocket and trade.

Lentz may look to his wrestling against Allen, as the Brit was taken down in 3 of his first 4 UFC fights (12 TDs). He has defended all 5 TDAs over his last 2 wins.

This bout was cobbled together after each man’s original opponent withdrew.

Allen is the more gifted fighter and will have a speed advantage. None of that will matter if he can’t stay vertical long enough to employ it. Lentz showed his willingness to commit to his wrestling to overcome a capable striker in Scott Holtzman and he will need a similar approach here. The Brit has struggled against ground-oriented fighters and Lentz’s persistent wrestling will test that once again. The move back to Featherweight will help Nik bring his physicality to bear- my prediction is Nik Lentz to defeat Arnold Allen by decision.

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125lbs- Justine Kish vs Lucie Pudilova

Back to back UFC wins at Strawweight were undone by a loss to Felice Herrig and move to Flyweight where Justine Kish (6-2-0) dropped a split decision to Ji Yeon Kim. She has not seen action in almost 2-years.

Kish’s UFC tenure included a failed weight cut at Strawweight. As a result, she eventually moved to 125-pounds. In this contest, she will need to overcome the 3″ reach and height advantage held by her opponent.

The move up in weight class appears to have taken away the physical edge possessed by Kish. Additionally, she has struggled with offering a consistent striking attack and is prone to getting outworked.

The Czech Republic’s Lucie Pudilova (8-5-0) enters this contest on a 3-fight losing skid- she is just 2-4 in the promotion. That being said, even in defeat, she has put forth a strong effort.

Pudilova’s fan-friendly striking based style has made her fun to watch, but also defensively vulnerable. She tends to wear her damage, especially in more demanding fights.

Her inability to remain vertical has also been a noticeable aspect of her fights- Pudilova struggled early with the grappling of Sarah Moras and gave up a trio of takedowns against Liz Carmouche.

The layoff for Kish could impact her performance. Considering Pudilova’s aggressive style, if Kish is at all compromised look for her to start slowing down around the middle of the bout. Pudilova’s jab is solid and will be magnified by her length advantage. Kish will most likely struggle to match Lucie’s output which will force her to look for takedowns. Pudilova’s TDD will be tested early, but as the fight advances the threat will dissipate- my prediction is Lucie Pudilova to defeat Justine Kish by decision.

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135lbs- Felipe Colares vs Montel Jackson

An unsuccessful debut did not dissuade Montel Jackson (8-1-0) rallying for back to back victories including the first submission win of his pro career. He has won 5-times by knockout- 3 in the first frame.

Jackson will look to utilize a 2″ height advantage and more impressive 6-inches of reach. He is coming off his most complete performance- melding together a strong striking output with a trio of takedowns and subsequent top control.

Montel battled his way to multiple dominant positions on the floor and he may utilize a similar approach against Colares who has been taken down frequently over his pair of Octagon outings.

Similarly, Felipe Colares (9-1-0) stumbled in his debut, only to return to form with a split decision win in his next performance. He is just 2-1 on the cards compared to 5 submission wins a pair of knockouts- 5 in the opening round.

The Brazilian has recently seen a substantial increase in fight time from the early portion of his career. After ending his first 6 fights before the 10-minute mark, he has fought into the 3rd round in each of his last 4 contests.

Colares is going to struggle with the superior power and striking skills of Jackson. Montel’s wrestling should allow the American to dictate where this fight plays out; forcing Colares to either work off his back or stand and trade. Felipe needs to catch lightning in a bottle with either a sudden knockout our submission- he won’t, my prediction is Montel Jackson to defeat Felipe Colares by knockout.

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135lbs- Lina Lansberg vs Sara McMann

An undefeated start to career ended in a title fight defeat and since the loss, Sara McMann (11-5-0) has struggled to a .500 record over her last 8 fights.

A top-level wrestler, the former title challenger’s success has been based on her ability to land takedowns. Over her UFC tenure, she has completed at least 2 takedowns in each of her UFC victories. Conversely, she has landed 1 or fewer completion in 4 of her 5 UFC losses.

McMann hasn’t seen action in nearly 2-years- giving birth and suffering an injury-related setback.

Coming off an impressive upset victory, Sweden’s Lina Lansberg (10-4-0) will look to extend her current winning streak to 3 in a row. Most likely, Lansberg will want to author a primarily striking based bout against the ground-oriented McMann.

Known for her clinch-based elbow strikes, Lina finished multiple opponents on the regional scene, but she has yet to do so inside the Octagon.

That being said, her upset of Macy Chiasson came largely on the strength of a couple of key takedowns and top control over the final 2 rounds.

Even when getting off to a good start, McMann has had issues maintaining her performance when her opponent pushes back. Lansberg’s TDD has been a major issue, giving up completions in all but 2 of her fights. The layoff could create an issue for McMann, but look for her to return to form with a strong takedown/ top control based performance. Lansberg will struggle to maintain separation and spend the majority of the fight on her back- my prediction is Sara McMann to defeat Lina Lansberg by decision.

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135lbs- Brett Johns vs Tony Gravely

Back to back losses brought the undefeated run of Brett “The Pikey” Johns (15-2-0) to an end. Prior to his losses against top competition, he showcased an effective mixed of grappling and striking leading to a pair decision wins and a surprising calf slicer.

Prior to his debut, he won 4 of 5 fights on the scorecards- 2 by split decision. He has not seen action in roughly 16-months.

In Johns’ recent defeats, he was unable to gain an edge on the mat and couldn’t do enough solely with his striking attack.

The majority of Tony Gravely’s (19-5-0) Contender’s win was spent on the mat. He comes from a strong wrestling background. Both fighters were put in some bad positions, but eventually, Gravely got a solid back mount and finished the fight via GNP.

Overall, he is 3-4 in fights ending by submission- accounting for all but 1 of his career losses. He has power, finishing 8 opponents by knockout including a 36-second slam knockout to win the CES Bantamweight title.

The quality of competition required to overcome Gravely has been impressive, including the likes of Manny Bermudez and Merab Dvalishvili.

This could be a close fight and it will most likely come down to which fighter can find an edge on the mat. Gravely is the better overall wrestler and his ability to transition out of bad spots will be key. Johns doesn’t offer enough volume to win this fight on his feet if he can’t augment it with takedowns and top control. Gravely edges him in positional control time- my prediction is Tony Gravely to defeat Brett Johns by decision.

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145lbs- Herbert Burns vs Nate Landwehr

Contenders Series graduate Hebert “The Blaze” Burns (9-2-0) (and younger brother of Gilbert) has finished each of his last 3 opponents by submission with 7 of his 9 pro wins coming by tap out.

Prior to his Contender bout, Burns fought under both the Titan FC and ONE Championship banners.

Not surprisingly, Burns’ focus will be on forcing a grappling battle. He will pull guard or jump to back mount from the clinch and start attacking. RNCs have accounted for 4 of his 7 sub wins.

The similarly debuting Nate “The Train” Landwehr (13-2-) has spent time under the M-1 banner, winning all 5 of his fights. He captured the M-1 Featherweight title and successfully defended it twice.

“The Train” will most likely want to drag Burns into a brawl. Force him to slug it out on the feet and either finish him or exhaust him and work his way to a volume/ damage based decision.

He has finished 8 opponents by knockout- only 2 in the first frame.

Burns is dangerous off his back, but he will give up position and was eating shots in his last fight prior to catching a triangle.

The American’s willingness to press forward could lead him to victory or abrupt defeat. Burns may only need 1 opportunity on the floor and the lack of defense in Landwehr’s game will provide him with ample opportunities to do so. Landwehr needs to fight letter-perfect; do damage and avoid hitting the floor in the process. He won’t be able to. Burns will trade and then clinch and generate the grappling match he desires- my prediction is Herbert Burns to defeat Nate Landwehr by submission.

UFC 246

125lbs- Maycee Barber vs Roxanne Modafferi

At -1000 on some sites, Maycee “The Future” Barber (8-0-0) is the heaviest favourite on the card and for good reason. The 21-year old prospect has finished 5 consecutive opponents by TKO (3 in the UFC) and has only gone the distance once as a pro.

Barber’s trio of UFC victims have an impressive combined Octagon record of  11-2, excluding their defeats to “The Future”.

A career underdog and Women’s MMA Pioneer, Roxanne Modafferi (23-16-0) turned pro in 2003. She made her almost exactly 10-years later.

“The Happy Warrior” has made the most of her Octagon tenure, debuting in a title fight and upsetting both Barb Honchak and Antonina Shevchenko.

Barber is the younger fighter by 16-years.

Roxanne has some advantage is height and reach, but the physicality of Barber will simply be too much. Modafferi has struggled with more physical opponents who offered aggressive forward pressure.

Look for Barber to back Roxy up from the start of the fight, and overwhelm her with close-range strikes. Modafferi has never demonstrated the type of striking power required to one-punch her way to a flash victory or even do enough to gain the respect of Barber. Maycee needs to be mindful of the magnitude of a loss here, but she gets it done- my prediction is Maycee Barber to defeat Roxanne Modafferi by TKO.

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145lbs- Andre Fili vs Sodiq Yusuff

Putting together the strongest run of his Octagon career, Team Alpha Male’s Andre “Touchy” Fili has collected wins in 4 of his last 5 wins. He had struggled with consistency, alternating wins, and losses over his first 8 UFC bouts.

Fili is coming off of his first knockout win since 2015, with the majority of his success coming on the scorecards.

Sodiq Yusuff (10-1-0) is coming off a knockout victory over the Gabriel Benitez, the same man that Fili knocked out in 2015. One fight prior, Yusuff took a decision against Sheymon Moraes, who Fili just knocked out.

Yusuff came out aggressive against Benitez, routinely firing a hard right hand while pressing forward. He finished the fight with a counter right hand, but not before getting hurt and dropped by his foe.

The long left jab of Fili was key in setting up the knockout. He also landed a couple of solid head kicks and a counter right hand that dropped his foe leading to the finish.

Fili’s height and reach advantage could be a key factor if his jab is on point. Additionally, the “Touchy” appears to offer a more diversified attack than his foe with kicks and takedowns to argument his boxing.

Sodiq got the win against Benitez, but he took some significant damage and forced himself to victory, winging big punches until he got the win. It was not the most technical approach.

Fili offers a more diverse attack- his jab and kicking arsenal will be key along with some well-timed takedowns. Yusuff has the raw ability and talent to win, but Fili will do more- my prediction is Andre Fili to defeat Sodiq Yusuff by decision.

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125lbs- Askar Askarov vs Tim Elliott

With a new Flyweight champion about to be crowned, the winner of former title challenger Tim Elliott (15-9-1) and Russia’s Askar Askarov could be in line for a title shot before the end of 2020. Elliott is just 2-2 since fight for the title.

Askarov came into the UFC with a split draw against Brandon Moreno- his fight not to end in a victory. He has finished all 10 of his pro wins- 7 by submission.

Elliott suffered the 4th submission loss of his career in his last fight.

A self-described “awkward fighter”, Elliott is in continual motion and throws a wide variety of techniques. He will look to take his foe to the floor, but he has been submitted on 4 occasions including each of his last 2 defeats.

Tim has landed takedowns in all but two of his UFC fights, including an impressive 4 completions against the former champion.

The majority of Askarov’s back and forth battle with Moreno was spent on the ground, completing 4 takedowns to Moreno’s 1.

While the Russian did slow down against Moreno, costing him the victory- it was also his debut, a return from a long layoff, and he was fighting at altitude.

The scrambles in this fight are going to be outstanding. That could be both good and bad for Elliott. His ability to outwork adversaries on the mat is noteworthy, but he is also vulnerable to getting stuck in bad spots on the mat.

Elliott will be the more active fighter but look for the Russian to be the more impactful and capitalize on Elliott’s mistakes. The power of Askarov will force Tim to get reckless when looking for takedowns and open himself up. Tim is not nearly as effective when he can’t bully his opponent and he won’t be able to here; my prediction is Askar Askarov to defeat Tim Elliott by submission.

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155lbs- Drew Dober vs Nasrat Haqparast

A 13-fight UFC veteran, southpaw Drew Dober (21-9-0 1NC) has experienced a career resurgence since early 2016 with wins in 6 of his last 8 fights.

The 31-year old’s success has been largely the product of two key improvements. The integration of wrestling into his offense and enhanced power striking- Drew has knockouts in 3 of his last 5 wins.

Germany’s Nasrat Haqparast (11-2-0) is coming off his first UFC win by knockout, stopping Joaquim Silva in round 1. He has finished 9 of his 11 pro victories by TKO or KO- 6 in the opening round.

Prior to finishing Silva, Haqparast has put forth strong back to back decision wins with a combined offensive output of 217-significant strikes. Nasrat’s left hand is arguably his best weapon.

Equally as impressive has been his ability to limit his opponent’s offensive attack, averaging just 40 significant strikes given up over 4 contests.

Haqparast is the taller fighter with the slightly longer reach and that could be crucial when the fists start flying.

Look for Dober’s kicking game to be less impactful against a fellow southpaw which will limit one of his key weapons. Haqparast will be the busier fighter with his boxing, carving up Dober on the feet in a competitive 15-minute slugfest. Drew will have his moments, but Haqparast will have more- my prediction is Nasrat Haqparast to defeat Drew Dober by decision.

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205lbs- Aleksa Camur vs Justin Ledet

Despite a strong start at Heavyweight, Justin “El Blanco” Ledet (9-2-0) has struggled in his new home at Light Heavyweight. His most recent foray into the cage ended with a 15-second knockout against Corey Anderson knockout victim Johnny Walker.

Ledet’s apparent speed and cardio advantage that he had Heavyweight have not traveled with him to his new weight class.

The UFC newcomer, Aleksa Camur (5-0-0) will need to overcome some sizeable physical disparities as he will stand 3-inches shorter than Ledet and give up 6-inches of reach.

Camur booked his UFC ticket with a round 2 flying knee knockout on the Contenders Series. All 5 of his pro wins have come by knockout.

Despite a 100% finishing rate and never having fought beyond the middle frame, Camur didn’t push a crazy opening pace. He moved forward against his opponent, picking his spots but never really unloading.

The finish came with a well-timed jumping knee and following GNP.

Ledet is looking to rally from his first career knockout loss. He has been almost entirely shutout in his last 2 UFC outings. Aleksandar Rakic grounded him for the majority of the fight, nullifying Ledet’s striking skills, and solid submission game.

Camur is a former Golden Gloves champion and Ledet comes from a boxing background which should equate to a striking based fight. Even in his last Heavyweight bout, Ledet struggled against an aggressive opponent and narrowly squeaked out a victory. Look for the quicker Camur to out work Ledet over the duration of the bout, eventually landing catching him during an exchange- my prediction is Aleksa Camur to defeat Justin Ledet by knockout.

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135lbs- Brian Kelleher vs Ode Osbourne

Unable to build on a victory over former divisional champion Renan Barao, Brian “Boom” Kelleher (19-10-0), has been finished in back to back fights. His last fight, a submission loss to Montel Jackson, took place roughly 13-months ago.

The American’s win over Barao was his only UFC bout to go the distance. He has been submitted 6-times.

A round 1 submission win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender series extended Ode Osbourne’s (8-2-0 1NC) winning streak to 4-straight fights. He has finished all of his 8 wins but 1- ending 6 in the opening round.

Prior to his Contenders victory, Osbourne’s last 3 wins came over a 2-2 opponent and backed to back victories over a fighter with a dismal 2-9 record.

He is just 2-2 against opponents with above .500 records.

Osbourne will have a 7″ reach advantage.

Kelleher will push a good pace and can overwhelm his foe, but his offensive pressure opens him up to vulnerable positions as his numerous losses by finish would suggest.

Ode impressively caught an armbar off his back in his last fight for he win.

There are some clear red flags with Osbourne, but Kelleher is in a rough spot here. Back to back finishes followed by an injury and prolonged layoff could result in diminished performance. Osbourne hits hard and had his last foe in trouble prior to getting taken down. His submission skills and punching power will trouble the defensively vulnerable “Boom”- my prediction is Ode Osbourne to defeat Brian Kelleher by submission.

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125lbs- J.J. Aldrich vs Sabina Mazo

Despite a UFC 227 upset victory on the main card, J.J. Aldrich (8-3-0) will compete in the first bout of UFC 246 while in search of her fifth win over her last six fights.

J.J. is coming off of her second-best UFC striking performance, landing 74-significant strikes, improving to 6-1 in decisions.

Opposing Aldrich, Sabina “Colombia Queen” Mazo (7-1-0) will be more than willing to oblige her foe in a striking oriented fight. A former kickboxing champion, she found similar success in her sophomore appearance. Mazo landed an impressive 108 significant strikes, hurting her opponent to the body early.

The Colombian integrated an unexpected takedown element to her attack, landing 4 takedowns and prolonged top control. Aldrich has struggled against opponents that can put her on her back.

That being said, her TDD has improved significantly.

J.J. will need to utilize her boxing volume to get past the kick-heavy attack of her foe.

Mazo has been characterized as a bit of a slow starter and J.J. will press a pretty steady pace from the start. Her TDD is solid and that will help her to prevent Sabina from implementing her secondary takedown attack. Look for Aldrich to consistently move into boxing range and outwork her foe over the duration of the bout- my prediction is J.J. Aldrich to defeat Sabin Mazo by decision.

UFC Fight Night 165

265lbs- Ciryl Gane (5-0-0) vs Tanner Boser (17-5-1)

In the headlining undercard fight, France’s Ciryl Gane puts his undefeated record on the line against Canadian Heavyweight Tanner “The Bulldozer” Boser. Gane is 2-0 in the UFC, winning both bouts by submission. Boser has won back to back bouts including a successful UFC debut over Daniel Spitz.

Boser is a year younger than Gane and should be roughly 10-pounds heavier. Gane is the taller man by 2-inches to go along with a 6″ reach advantage.

Gane has demonstrated a pair of crucial and arguably unexpected aspects of his game. He can carry his offense deep into a fight with limited cardio issues. He also can grapple and finish on the floor. Boser’s cardio and ability to go the distance was well understood. He has 7 wins by decisions and has fought into the championship rounds on 4 occasions. He landed 94 significant strikes in his debut. Boser is a decent kicker and has finished fights with low kicks, but he is facing a very capable Muay Thai striker in Gane. Boser steady volume-based attack will struggle against the more mobile and impactful Gane- my prediction is Ciryl Gane to defeat Tanner Boser by knockout.

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145lbs- Seungwoo Choi (7-3-0) vs Suman Mokhtarian (8-1-0)

In the Bantamweight division, Australia’s Suman Mokhtarian makes his 2nd UFC walk to take on South Korea’s Seungwoo Choi. Choi is 0-2 in the UFC, most recently suffering a submission loss to Canadian Gavin Tucker. Mokhtarian debuted with an abrupt loss to Sodiq Yusuff- the first loss of his career.

A tall fighter for the division, Choi stands 4-inches taller than Suman to go along with a 2″ reach advantage.

A debut spent almost entirely on the defensive was Mokhtarian’s reward for a career built on defeating extremely low-level opposition. The Aussie was shelling up under fire and protested the stoppage, but he was still getting smashed. Choi is a decent striker, 5 of 7 wins by knockout, but he has spent the majority of his UFC cage time on his back. He has given up 10 takedowns over 2 fights. If Mokhtarian can find some success with his mat game, he could grind out a win. More likely, Choi utilizes his reach and power against an opponent ill-equipt to compete at this level- my prediction is Seungwoo Choi to defeat Suman Mokhtarian by knockout.

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155lbs- Dong Hyun Ma (16-10-3) vs Omar Antonio Morales Ferrer (8-0-0)

Fan friendly fighter “Maestro” Dong Hyun Ma returns home for the first time since 2015 when he battles the debuting Venezuelan Omar Morales in the Lightweight division. Ma has been a streaky fighter in the UFC, back to back knockout defeats gave way to a trio of victories and have since been overtaken by 2 more stoppage loses. For Morales, he made a splash on the Tuesday Night Contender Series with a 2nd round knockout of LFA Champion Harvey Park- he was victorious one fighter earlier in his Bellator debut.

Both fighters are 5’11”, but Ferrer will have a 3″ reach advantage.

Setting up the finish of his Contender’s contest with a series of brutal leg kicks, Morales showcased his finishing skills. He has finished all but 2 of his pro wins inside the opening round. Ma will be more than willing to oblige him in a firefight- trading on the feet with minimal focus on defense. Ma needs to utilize his Judo skills and engage Omar in the clinch, grind him on the cage, and test his cardio. That being said, Ma is too willing to throw hands and Ferrer is the superior striker with dangerous power- my prediction is Omar Morales to defeat Dong Hyun Ma by knockout.

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125lbs- #4 Alexandre Pantoja (21-4-0) vs #9 Matt Schnell (14-4-0)

In a Flyweight bout with title contention on the line, Alexandre Pantoja takes on the streaking Matt “Danger” Schnell. Schnell has won 4 in a row, including back to back submission wins, to rebound from an 0-2 UFC start. Pantoja had won 3 in a row, but most recently fell via decision to Deiveson Figueiredo at UFC 240.

The American is the taller man by 3-inches and he will have a similar reach advantage.

Schnell has rounded out his offense nicely, working a solid striking attack in conjunction with opportunistic submission skills. In each of his last 2 wins, he forced his opponent into a grappling exchange, opened with a guillotine, and transitioned to a fight-ending guillotine. Pantoja has also showcased finishing ability in each of his last 2 wins, but the BJJ Black belt was battered on the feet for the majority of his last outing. Schnell has risen to the occasion, but this is another step up. Pantoja is the more durable fighter and offers a little more power. He is also the superior grappler that will capitalize on Schnell’s willingness to go to his back- my prediction is Alexandre Pantoja to defeat Matt Schnell by submission.

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135lbs- Raoni Barcelos (14-1-0) vs Said Nurmagomedov (13-1-0)

In a contest that should be getting more attention than an early morning undercard slot, Raoni Barcelos meets Russia’s Said Nurmagomedov in the Bantamweight division. Barcelos has won 7 in a row since his first career loss- he is 3-0 in the UFC. Nurmagomedov currently rides a 7-fight winning streak himself, including a pair of wins inside the Octagon.

Said is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is the younger man by 5-years.

Barcelos has looked dangerous in all areas; showcasing heavy hands and solid ground game. Nurmagomedov is coming off an impressive victory over a dangerous opponent that offers a similar skill set to Barcelos. Distance is going to be the key here. Raoni needs to move forward with regularity and land against the longer Russian who offers a better distance striking attack that will keep him on the outside. Said has to limit Raoni’s grappling success to further magnify his advantage on the feet- my prediction is Said Nurmagomedov to defeat Raoni Barcelos by decision.

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125lbs- Miranda Granger (7-0-0) vs Amanda Lemos (6-1-1)

A pair of promotional debutants square off as Miranda “Danger” Granger takes on Brazil’s Amanda Lemos in the Women’s Flyweight division. Granger won her debut over Hannah Goldy by decision to maintain her perfect record. Lemos was undefeated entering the UFC but fell via TKO to Leslie Smith at Fight Night 113.

Granger’s debut was her first fight in this weight class after a career at Strawweight while Lemos started at 135-pounds. The American is 3-inches taller to go along with a 3″ reach advantage. Lemos is the older fighter by 5-years.

Lemos was booked to face Veronica Macedo, but Macedo was removed from the fight and booked for another night.

The Brazilian will be returning after a suspension that kept her out for well over 2-years and she is making the cut to 125-pounds for the first time in the UFC. All but 1 of Lemos’ career wins have come in the first round and in her debut, she gassed early and was finished. Granger may need to weather the storm early from her foe, but look for the more economical and longer Granger to take this fight over in rounds 2 and 3. The American could also utilize her grappling to further slow Amanda down- my prediction is Miranda Granger to defeat Amanda Lemos by decision.

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125lbs- Heili Alateng (13-7-1) vs #13 Ryan Benoit (10-5-0)

Opening the event at 2 am Eastern Time, Heili Alateng looks to build on a successful debut performance when he takes on Ryan “Baby Face” Benoit. Benoit is coming off of a knockout win over Ashkan Mokhtarian- he has alternated wins and losses over his last 9-fights. Alateng secured a decision victory in his debut to extend his current winning streak to 3 straight wins.

Both men are 5’5″, with Benoit holding a slight 2″ reach advantage. Benoit has traditionally competed at Flyweight but he has had issues making weight.

The heavy-handed Benoit has not seen action in over 2-years. Benoit is dangerous and has shown himself capable of finishing a fight with one shot. Conversely, he struggles with consistency and that will be his downfall here. Alanteng can strike and should find success counter the sporadic aggression of his foe. Heili also has his wrestling to fall back on which will counter his foe’s vertical aggression. Benoit’s layoff and questionable cardio coupled with the travel factor and divisional jump make this a tough spot for Benoit- my prediction is Heili Alateng to defeat Ryan Benoit by decision.

UFC 245

170lbs- #14 Geoff Neal (11-2-0) vs Mike Perry (13-4-0)

The final fight of the prelims features potential future Welterweight contender Geoff “Handz of Steel” Neal battling the polarizing “Platinum” Mike Perry. Neal has won 6 in a row, including 4 in the UFC; he finished Nikko Price by TKO and battered Belal Muhammad over 15-minutes. Perry’s Fight of the Year candidate split decision loss to Vicent Luque dropped his UFC record to 6-5.

Neal is an inch taller, but he will have a 4″ reach advantage. Perry is the younger fighter by a year.

Perry is a capable striker with power and solid finishing instincts. He has finished 11 opponents by knockout- 4 in the UFC. Conversely, he has struggled with more technical opponents that are able to negate his aggression. Perry has not recorded a knockout victory over his last 6 fights. He matched Luque in volume, but wasn’t able to do enough to earn the split-decision nod.

Perry took a beating early in the Luque fight, but rallied late. He has finished 4 opponents outside of the first round compared to 6 within the first 5 minutes.

Offering a similarly knockout-heavy record, Neal has finished a pair of UFC opponents by knockout to go along with a submission win in his debut. Against Price, Neal got rocked in round 1, but was able to recover, return to his feet, and take Price down. “Hanz of Steel” utilized an effective takedown and top game, grounding his adversary while landing big strikes that eventually led to the finish.

Both of Neals’ defeats have come via stoppage (TKO and submission) and both came in the 3rd round which could suggest an issue in longer fights. He is 7-2 outside of the opening round and 3-2 in bouts that enter the 3rd frame.

The war between Perry and Luque occurred just 4-months ago. Including his badly broken nose, there could be concerns regarding how much “Platinum” Mike has recovered. Perry is arguably the more durable fighter, but he is also less defensively sound. Neal is the more diverse striker, mixing in his jab, and varying his offense more effectively. Neal’s use of wrestling could provide a solid foil to Perry’s aggression. Perry could score a stoppage, especially if Neal begins to falter in the later stages. More likely, Neal mixes up his offense, landing a solid array of strikes and key takedowns/ top control- wearing down a defensively vulnerable Perry- my prediction is Geoff Neal to defeat Mike Perry by decision.

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135lbs- #2 Ketlen Vieira (10-0-0) vs #10 Irene Aldana (10-5-0)

A future title shot could be up for grabs as undefeated contender Ketlen Vieira takes on Irene Aldana in the Women’s Bantamweight division. Vieira is 4-0 in the UFC, including back to back wins over former title contenders Cat Zingano and Sarah McMann. Aldana defeated Vaness Melo in her last fight to improve to 4-1 in her last 5 fights- she dropped a split decision to Raquel Pennington.

They share the same 68″ reach, despite Aldana standing an inch taller. The Brazilian is the younger fighter by 3-years.

It has been nearly 21-months since Vieira last fought.

A Black belt in both BJJ and Judo, Vieira has showcased her strong grappling acumen in recent outings. She defeated McMann via sub and controlled the majority of the fight versus Cat on the mat. She has taken down each of her UFC opponents, totalling 8 over 4-fights. Her striking is serviceable, showcased most effectively in her 71-strike win over Ashlee Evans-Smith.

Against McMann, she spent the majority of round 1 on her back before rallying to take the Olympic wrestler down and submit her.

Mexico’s Aldana has found her stride since a bit of a slow start. She offers a strong boxing attack with improving volume. She is coming off of her second 100+ strike performance. Equally as important as her volume, has been her improved ability to pace her attack. Prior to coming to the UFC, all of her wins came by stoppage while she was 0-4 outside of round 1.

Aldana is 4-1 over her last 5 fights to go 3 rounds. That being said she is 1-1 in splits, fought a couple of short-notice opponents, and scored a late submission when she was possibly behind on the cards.

If Aldana can stay on the outside, land long combinations, and utilize movement she can win a decision. Ketlen’s repaired knee could be an issue if she has to chase Irene. Conversely, the physical grappling offense of Vieira is going to give Irene issues on the clinch and the floor. Aldana has struggled with pressure, especially outside of the opening round. Once she starts to slow down, the takedowns will come easier for the Brazilian- my prediction is Ketlen Vieira to defeat Irene Aldana by submission.

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185lbs- #14 Omari Akhmedov (18-4-1) vs Ian Heinisch (13-2-0)

Former LFA champion, Ian “Hurricane” Heinisch takes on Russian Omari Akhmedov in the UFC’s Middleweight division. Akhmedov is 2-0-1 since returning to Middleweight- he most recently defeated Zak Cummings. Heinisch won back to back fights to start his UFC run, but came up short in his bid to take the next step- he lost a decision to Derek Brunson.

Omari is an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. The American is a year younger.

Akhmedov is a heavy-handed striker with a nice wrestling complement to his power punches. He utilized a pair of solid takedowns and prolonged top control to grind out Cummings over 15-minutes. His cardio has been an area of concern, but he has gone the distance in each of his last 5 fights with a record of 4-0-1.

Omari’s last 2 defeats both came by 3rd round stoppage in fights that he was arguably ahead in.

“Hurricane” Heinisch’s first 2 fights came against similar opponents. He bested both Brazilians by defending/surviving takedowns and pushing a pace that they could not match. Against, Brunson he struggled to land with regularity and gave up a couple of key TDs. He is an active fighter but doesn’t land a lot of volume.

Heinisch has been taken down 11-times over 3-fights.

There is a misconception regarding Heinisch’s cardio- it isn’t that great. He has benefited from opponents simply fading harder then he does. Omari has become more patient, pacing his offense with fewer explosions and more consistent volume. The key here will be Akhmedov’s takedowns. He has solid top control and Ian has given up 11 completions over 3 UFC fights. Look for Omari to land the more impactful strikes couple with crucial top control time- my prediction is Omari Akhmedov to defeat Ian Heinisch by decision.

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170lbs- Ben Saunders (22-12-2) vs Matt Brown (21-16-0)

A pair of long-time UFC competitors open the televised prelims as 24-fight UFC veteran Matt “The Immortal” Brown takes on 18-fight UFC vet Ben “Killa B” Saunders. Brown’s most recent efforts produced an unreal knockout win over Diego Sanchez, ending his 3-fight skid. Saunders is coming off of a loss to Takashi Sato, his 3rd straight defeat and 5th in 6 fights.

Saunders is 2-inches taller than Brown and he will have a 2″ reach advantage. Matt is the older man by 2-years.

Brown has been out of action for over 2-years after pulling out of a 2018 bout with Carlos Condit. Saunders has fought 5-times since “The Immortal” last graced the cage.

With a wealth of experience comes a considerable amount of damage, worn on both sides of this fight.

For Brown, his body has been an area of concern for several years. His opponents have found success targetting his midsection to do damage and open up other targets. Brown has been finished via strikes just twice- each coming in his last 2 defeats.

Saunders has had similar durability issues, more connected to his chin. He has been knocked out 8-times, including in 6 of his last 7 defeats.

How does Saunder’s win the fight? If Saunders can get Brown the mat, Ben has some nasty submission skills he could draw upon to secure the win. A body kick might be enough to floor Matt.

For Brown, he needs to get on the inside and test Ben’s durability. Brown can do damage in the clinch and from range (13 wins by knockout)- and the numbers suggest he is the more durable fighter.

The prolonged layoff is not ideal for an older fighter like Brown. It is also worth noting that Saunders is looking to rebound from a trio of defeats, which is a scenario that often produces positive returns. Matt is getting up in age and returning from an injury- he is not the same fighter he used to be. Look for Saunders to target Brown’s body with kicks at range and knees in close, eventually finding his way to the floor for a finish- my prediction is Ben Saunders to defeat Matt Brown by submission.

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145lbs- Daniel Teymur (7-3-0) vs Chase Hooper (8-0-1)

The final fight of the FightPass undercard features Sweden’s Daniel Teymur welcoming the debuting Chase Hooper in the Featherweight division. Teymur is coming off his first UFC win, rebounding from a dismal 0-3 start inside the Octagon. Hooper has yet to taste defeat in his pro career, including a decision win on the Tuesday Night Contenders Series and a submission victory under the Titan FC banner.

At a towering 6’1″, Hooper is a towering 8-inches taller than Teymur. He is also the younger man by 11-years.

Teymur’s UFC struggles have been characterized by a gap in his grappling defense and a lack of long fight experience. Prior to coming to the UFC, all of his regional bouts finished inside the opening round. All 4 of his UFC contests have lasted beyond the first frame- he is coming off his first career victory outside of round 1.

Teymur has power in his hands and will attack aggressively, but he struggles to maintain his pace.

Hooper’s recent level of competition has been decent, but not overwhelming. He spent the majority of the opening round in his Contender’s bout eating strikes and pulling guard. Once his foe slowed down, he found success controlling the fight on the floor.

His striking leaves a lot to be desired, which to date he has made up for with toughness.

Teymur is far from a complete fighter, but he looked much better in his most recent outing. He should have the striking edge here, if he can maintain his vertical base. Hooper’s strength is his grappling, but he is way too willing to pull guard and lacks a strong wrestling attack. Additionally, his significant height will make it difficult for him to change levels and take Teymur down. The porous striking defense of Hooper will open opportunities for Teymur to land at will- my prediction is Daniel Teymur to defeat Chase Hooper by TKO.

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125lbs- #5 Brandon Moreno (15-5-0) vs #6 Kai Kara-France (20-7-0)

A pair of fighters attempting to build towards future Flyweight title contention, Mexico’s Brandon “The Baby Assassin” Moreno takes on Aussie born Kai Kara-France. Moreno returned to the UFC and fought to a split draw with Askar Askarov- he is 3-2-1 in the UFC. Kara-France has yet to suffer a defeat in the UFC with a trio of wins extending his winning streak to 8 in a row.

Moreno is the taller man by 3-inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. They are the same age.

The majority of Moreno’s UFC career has been determined on the floor. He is an opportunistic submission artist, recording 10 wins by sub including a pair inside the Octagon. He is coming off of a fight where he spent some time in both top and bottom positions and proved himself to be aggressive from both spots.

He is aggressive on the feet, but tends to be a little wild. Moreno is just 3-5-1 on the cards.

The Aussie has relied more on his striking and is coming off of a fight in which he defended 6 of his 7 TDAs to force his foe to remain on the feet. He offers good pop in his punches, dropping Mark De La Rosa early in round 1. He should have a technical edge in this fight, working behind his jab before throwing with power.

This will be the first fight for Kara-France in the United States.

The travel factor could be an issue for Kara-France, especially against an aggressive opponent that will push a steady pace. If he has any complications, Moreno will draw them out. “The Baby Assassin” is a fantastic scrambler and will look to force Kara-France into a ground-based attack. KKF needs to stay at range, but he is dealing with a longer opponent that will press forward with power. Look for Moreno to find Kara-France’s back and control some key top position while doing some damage on the feet- my prediction is Brandon Moreno to defeat Kai Kara-France by submission.

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125lbs- #2 Jessica Eye (14-6-0 1NC) vs #5 Viviane Araujo (7-1-0)

Recent Flyweight title challenger, Jessica “Evil” Eye returns to action to take on the surging Viviane “Vivi” Araujo. Eye suffered a devastating 2nd round knockout loss to Valentina Shevchenko, ending her 3-fight winning streak. Araujo is 2-0 in the UFC, debuting with a violent knockout of Talita Bernardo at Bantamweight before besting Alexis Davis via decision.

Eye is the taller fighter by 2-years, but Araujo will have a 2″ reach advantage. They are roughly the same age.

These competitors are in vastly different places in their careers. Araujo is a rising contender on a 5-fight winning streak. Eye is coming off her first and potentially only UFC title shot. She started her career 5-years before Araujo and debuted in the UFC 6-years and 11-fights ago.

Her long journey and tough title loss equates to a potential “post-title fight letdown” scenario for Eye.

Araujo is a multi-faceted fighter with power in her hands, good striking technique, and a capable ground game. She has finished 7 of her 8 wins, 4 by submission and 5 in the opening round.

On route to a title shot, Eye did a nice job of fleshing out her offense. She incorporated more takedowns into her attack to augment her boxing-centric offense. Conversely, earlier in her career she struggled with opponents that attempted to take her down.

The Brazilian appears to have the edge in offensive and defensive grappling, which will make it difficult for Eye to find success in that aspect of the fight. Eye has a tendency to rely too much on her counters and this can result in her falling behind on the scorecards. She is prone to close fights and is 3-2 in split decisions. It can be anticipated that the post-title fight letdown will impact Jessica’s performance which will be key in a close fight. “Vivi” will push a steadier pace and land a couple of well-timed takedowns- my prediction is Viviane Araujo to defeat Jessica Eye by decision.

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185lbs- Oskar Piechota (11-2-1) vs Punahele Soriano (6-0-0)

To open the event, the debuting Hawaiian Punahele Soriano takes on 4-fight UFC veteran Oskar Piechota in the Middleweight division. Piechota has lost back to back bouts to Gerald Meerschaert and Rodolfo Vieira- he is 2-2 in the UFC. Soriano is coming off of a successful Contender’s Series Fight- he also owns wins under the LFA, Titan, and PFL banners.

Piechota is the taller man by an inch to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. Soriano is the younger fighter by 2-years.

The Czech-fighter appeared poised to make a run with a 2-0 start including an impressive knockout win. He has split his 10 finishes evenly. A talented BJJ Black belt, Piechota controlled “GM3” over the opening round before gassing and succumbing to an arm-triangle.

Oskar has landed more strikes in 3 of his 4 UFC fights, but he is also coming off of back to back bouts in which he gave up 3 takedowns each.

The debuting Soriano had finished each of his pro wins inside the distance, 3 times by knockout. His Contender’s bout was his first to end on the scorecards. Punahele is an aggressive fighter, wading forward behind wide hooks and forcing his opponent into a firefight. He comes from a wrestling background and will look for takedowns when required.

Prior to his last 2 fights, Punahele’s combined 4 opponents offer a record of 5-11.

This is a difficult fight to predict as there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding Soriano. He has shown he can wrestle and has finishing power, but the majority of his success has come against lower-level opposition. With the majority of his fights ending inside the first round, it further creates concern regarding how he will fare at the next level. Piechota’s stock is at an all-time low after back to back-finish defeats. He has the experience advantage and if he can avoid the early attack, his grappling heavy style will wear on his foe- my prediction is Oskar Piechota to defeat Punahele Soriano by submission.

UFC on ESPN 7

135lbs- #10 Rob Font (16-4-0) vs Ricky Simon (15-2-0)

Opening the main card Rob Font puts his Bantamweight ranking on the line when he takes on Ricky Simon. Simon is coming off a shocking knockout loss to the returning Urijah Faber- he had won 8 in a row including 3 in the UFC. Font secured a decision win over Sergio Pettis and has alternated wins and losses over his last 5 fights- he is 6-3 in the UFC.

Font is 2-inches taller than Simon to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Simon is the younger fighter by 5-years.

The loss to Faber was unexpected, especially considering it came by knockout after he hurt Urijah. It certainly raises a question about his durability. Simon is aggressive, utilizing a lot of movement and a high paced striking attack. He also offers a solid wrestling game to augment his vertical offense.

Ricky landed 13 takedowns over his first 3 UFC fights. He also gave up 8 over his first 2 appearances.

With 7 wins by knockout, including 4 in the UFC- Font has fight stopping power. He is also a solid wrestler with a capable submission game. He is coming off his UFC best 111-significant strikes landed. Font’s defensive striking is sound, but he has struggled with pressure. Linker was able to walk him down and Munhoz hurt him on the feet prior to getting the sub.

Prior to the Pettis win, Font has limited his opponents to under 30 significant strikes in all of his UFC events.

Where is Simon mentally after the Faber loss? If he can’t get passed that defeat, his willingness to press the action and engage could be compromised. Font is the better defensive fighter which will serve to limit Simon’s offensive success. Font has fought better competition and that should be evident here as he effectively deals with Ricky’s pressure. Font will defend the majority of Ricky’s TDA’s and simply land more strikes throughout- my prediction is Rob Font to defeat Ricky Simon by decision.

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170lbs- Thiago Alves (23-14-0) vs Tim Means (28-11-1)

Welterweight veterans Thiago “Pitbull” Alves and “The Dirty Bird” Tim Means go head to head both looking to return to the win column. Alves is coming off a defeat to Laureano Staropoli and has just 2 wins over his last 7 fights. Means suffered a brutal knockout loss to Niko Price- he has just a pair of victories over his last 7 Octagon outings.

At 6’2″, Means is 5-inches taller to go along with a 5″ reach advantage. Means is the younger fighter by a year.

Alves is a nasty Muay Thai striker, but time has caught up to the former title challenger. At this best, he throws brutalizing leg kicks, most recently landing 26 against Staropoli. His overall output and striking consistency have been major concerns in recent fight. He also lacks the fight stopping over that he showcased earlier in his career.

The difference in the Brazilian’s output between wins and losses is noteworthy. In his last 3 decision wins he has averaged 92 strikes landed compared to 50 strikes averaged over his last 3 decision losses.

Means is returning from a vicious knockout that also resulted in a broken leg. He will have a sizable length advantage in this fight and will benefit from facing an opponent that is equally as striking oriented as he is. Unlike Alves, who has recently been gifted a hometown decision, Means could easily bee on a 5-fight winning streak with 2 controversial split decision losses and the come from behind victory by Price.

The American has landed more strikes in 4 of his last 5 fights, but a lack of urgency has cost him in close contests.

Alves has had issues when faced with a longer opponent. Means does a decent job of utilizing his reach and will find success keeping Thiago on the outside. There is some concern over whether or not Means has recovered from his knockout defeat and subsequent injury. Alves might attempt to take Tim down, but it is more likely that he gets drawn into a striking-based fight. Means will use his length and greater activity rate to get the better of the exchanges- my prediction is Tim Means to defeat Thiago Alves by TKO.

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145lbs- Billy Quarantillo (12-2-0) vs Jacob Killburn (8-2-0)

With Chris Fishgold out, Jacob Killburn makes his first Octagon walk as he opposes fellow Tuesday Night Contenders Series graduate, TUF alumni, and UFC debutant Billy Quarantillo. Killburn has won back to back fights by knockout since a submission loss to Bobby Moffet on the Contenders series. Quarantillo has won 5 in a row dating back to a 2016 defeat to former UFC competitor Michel Quinones.

Quarantillo has competed at 155 pounds before and he will have a 2″ reach advantage despite being the shorter fighter by an inch. Killburn is 7-years younger, but he will have less than 2 weeks to prepare for this bout.

With a decently diverse record, highlighted by 5 wins by knockout, Quarantillo comes to the UFC having faced respectable regional competition. Killburns numbers also favour the knockout, with 4 stoppages by (T)KO compared to just 2 each by submission and decision.

Jacobs recent competition is a little more suspect with a 2-1 opponent and another currently holding a sub .500 record.

Quarantillo brings a lot of pressure in his attack, but got taken down early in his last bout. He throws a big overhand right and while he tends to attack with single strikes his forward pressure makes him effective. He does a nice job of mixing up his offense, punching to the body and mixing in knees from the clinch.

Killburn spent the majority of his loss to Moffet on his back, defending a heavy grappling assault until he eventually succumbed to the submission. In more recent action, he has showcased his punching power including landing a beautiful 1-2 that knocked hi opponent out cold.

This is a far better stylistic matchup for Billy than the Fishgold fight. His ability to push an aggressive pace and get stronger as the fight advances in combination with Killburn’s short notice and already questionable fight longevity gives Quarantillo a sizeable edge. A fast start will most likely give way to Killburn fading under the pressure of his foe- my prediction is Billy Quarantillo to defeat Jacob Killburn by TKO.

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145lbs- Bryce Mitchell (11-1-0) vs Matt Sayles (8-2-0)

The opener of the televised prelims features undefeated Bryce Mitchell taking on Alliance MMA fighter Matt Sayles in the Featherweight division. Mitchell, 2-0 in the UFC, most recently defeat Bobby Moffet in a close bout. Sayles dropped his debut to Sheymon Moraes, but rallied to defeat Shane Nelson by submission in an entertaining scrap.

Bryce is 3-inches taller and will have a 2″ reach advantage.

A self-described slow starter, the submission savvy Mitchell threatened with subs early against Moffet and dropped him during a quick striking exchange. He fended off some tough spots in round 2 and rallied in the final frame to take the decision. In his debut, he earned a decision win despite getting outlanded 51-38 and tying the takedown battle 3-3.

He might have lost his last fight had he not countered out of a bad spot to Moffet’s back and nearly sunk in an RNC late in the 3rd round.

Sayles has fought in a pair of entertaining bouts. He rallied in his debut, but came up short with his 3rd round striking barrage. Against Nelson, he dominated round 1 and lost round 2- both rounds playing out on the floor. He then secured the fight-ending sub in the final frame.

He offers an active striking attack, decent movement, and solid stopping power resulting in 6 knockout wins.

Sayles appeared vulnerable to the grappling skills of Nelson and that is concerning against Mitchell. Bryce is a big 145er and offers an aggressive grappling attack on the floor. If Sayles can keep this fight standing, he can outwork Mithcell with a more attacking striking onslaught. This fight stands to be an entertaining back and forth affair with both men having their moments. Look for Mitchell to force his style on his foe and get the better of the positioning- my prediction is Bryce Mitchell to defeat Matt Sayles by decision.

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155lbs- Joel Solecki (8-2-0) vs Matt Wiman (16-8-0)

Looking to turn back the clock, Mike Wiman attempts to return to the win column for the first time since 2014 when he takes on promotional newcomer Joel Solecki. Wiman returned after nearly 5-years away from the sport, falling via TKO to Luis Pena. Solecki has won 3 in a row, including his Contender’s Series fight in July.

Wiman is an inch taller, but he will give up 2-inches of reach. Solecki is the younger man by 10-years.

It was unexpected to see Wiman return to the Octagon after such a layoff- it was almost as if he was a remnant of a time that had passed by. All 10 of his UFC wins have come over opponents no longer on the UFC roster.

Wiman is a pressure fighter, looking to outwork opponents with his combined of paced striking and takedowns. Conversely, he got handled on the mat and eventually finished via overwhelming GNP by Pena.

With 6 wins by submission, Solecki is a talent ground fighter. He showcased a slick transition game, eventually working to a top mount guillotine for the finish of his Contender’s opponent. He has finished all of his wins in the opening frame, but 1.

He is a 1-2 in fights that go beyond round 1.

Wiman’s style doesn’t seem to equate to success at this stage of MMA. That being said, if his opponent starts to slip after round 1- Matt could turn this fight in his favour. Solecki’s strong takedown and top game are his keys to success. Wiman will have a few moments in his fight, but they won’t be enough. Look for the UFC debutant to hold prolonged periods of control on the mat- my prediction is Joel Solecki to defeat Matt Wiman by decision.

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115lbs- Mallory Martin (6-2-0) vs Virna Jandiroba (14-1-0)

Coming off the first loss of her career, Virna Jandiroba welcomes the debuting Mallory Martin to the Strawweight division. Jandiroba went 3-0 under the Invicta banner before facing Carla Esparza in an unsuccessful UFC debut. Martin went 3-1 in Invicta and split her fights under the LFA banner which included a decision loss to Maycee Barber.

Martin is taller by an inch, but Jandiroba will have a slight 1″ reach advantage. The American is 6-years younger.

Cortney Casey pulled out of the fight in late October and was replaced by Livia Souza who was then replaced by Martin on 2-weeks notice.

A successful Contenders Series fight showcased Martin’s strong wrestling attack. She sets up her level changes with strikes and is active from top position with strikes and transitions. She will also close the distance, establish body control and combined it with a trip.

Her striking is serviceable, but a secondary aspect of her offense focussed on closing the distance.

Another fighter that has found success on the mat, Jandiroba has recorded 11 of her 14 wins by sub. She is 3-1 on the cards including a pair of split decision wins. She gave up an early takedown against Esparza and lost the overall TD battle 4-3. That being said, completing a trio of takedowns against Esparza is impressive.

She is a BJJ Black belt and also comes from a Judo background.

Top position is a key aspect of this fight. The fighter that can secure the superior spot on the mat will almost certainly walk away with the victory. Martin is a solid wrestler, but she appears to lack the technical edge of Jandiroba. Look fo Virna to utilize her judo to shut down the early TDAs of her foe and go offensive with here own. With Martin coming in on short notice and Jandiroba making her second appearance after a tough fight with the former champion, Brazilian is in a better spot. Look for Jandiroba to counter a TDA to set up a submission opportunity- my prediction is Virna Jandiroba to defeat Mallory Martin by submission.

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185lbs- Trevor Smith (15-9-0) vs Makhmud Muradov (23-6-0)

In the first fight of the night, Strikeforce alumni Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith takes on UFC sophomore Makhmud Muradov in the UFC’s Middleweight division. Smith has lost back to back fights to Zak Cummings and Elias Theodorou. Muradov debuted with a decision win over Alessio Di Chirico for his 12th straight victory.

Smith is an inch taller but they share the same 75″ reach. Makhmud is the younger man by 9-years.

Muradov debuted on short notice, but outworked Di Chirico over the majority of the fight. He has finished 18 of his 23 wins- 15 by knockout.

He utilizes a lot of movement in his striking attack, avoiding his opponent’s offense and countering with his own techniques.

A veteran fighter, Smith is a grinder. He offers a capable submission attack accounting for 9 of his 15 wins, but none in the UFC. He has averaged 2.4 takedowns per UFC win compared to 0.66 per defeat.

Smith does his best work when he can and takedowns and grind his opponent into the floor or at the very least control them in the clinch.

The key to success for Smith will be to close the distance and keep his hands on Muradov- easier said than done. Makhmud’s mobility and more diverse striking arsenal will make it difficult for the American to track him down. Smith is not quick in the open, but if he can push his foe into the floor he can grind his way to a decision win. Muradov needs to be mindful of a late slowdown, but Smith also has a tendency to wear down in longer fighter. Smith’s reliance on takedowns to find Octagon success catches up to him here- my prediction is Makhmud Muradov to defeat Trevor Smith by decision.

UFN 164

170lbs- Sergio Moraes (14-5-1) vs James Krause (25-8-0)

In the headlining bout of the undercard, Sergio “Panther” Moraes takes on the surging American James Krause in the Welterweight division. Krause has won 5 straight fights including a stoppage of Warlley Alves in his most recent contest. Moraes had lost just once over a span of 10-fights but enters the contest having dropped back to back fights including a stoppage loss to the aforementioned Alves.

A former Lightweight, Krause is 2-inches taller than Moraes and he will have a 1″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by 4-years.

Moraes is an elite BJJ Black belt that has moved away from his grappling game to focus more on a fan-friendly striking attack. He has been rewarded with mixed results. His most recent victory came via submission of Ben Saunders. Against Rocco Martin, he completed a trio of takedowns but the majority of the fight saw him struggling to deal with his foe’s striking skills.

Sergio has been knocked out in 2 of his last 3 defeats.

Krause looked good against Alves, finishing him in round 2. He utilized a pressure-based attack that kept Alves on the defensive until the referee stopped the fight. He has a decent all-around attack with serviceable kicks and a good grappling game. He will need to avoid hitting the floor with Moraes. Krause has given up takedowns in 4 straight fights, but he has won them all.

14 of his 26 wins have come by submission.

The Brazilian is 5-1 when landing at least one takedown and he is 4-0 fighting at home against foreign-born fighters. Conversely, if Krause can keep the fight standing, he has the striking volume and diversity to control the exchanges. Moraes has power and is aggressive which will weigh well with the judges during the exchanges. He should be able to capitalize on the questionable TDD of Krause, scoring timely takedowns and controlling top position- my prediction is Sergio Moraes to defeat James Krause by decision.

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145lbs- Ricardo Ramos (12-2-0) vs Eduardo Garagorri (12-0-0)

In a battle for South American supremacy, Brazil’s Ricardo Ramos battles Uruguayan Eduardo Garagorri in the Featherweight division. Ramos started his UFC run with a 4-pack of wins before running into Said Nurmagomedov, he has since rebounded with a victory over Journey Newson. Garagorri remained undefeated with a successful debut performance against Humberto Bandenay- he is 3-0 in 2019.

Both men are 5’9″, Ramos will have a 2″ reach advantage. Ramos is the younger man by 6-years and is moving up a weight class.

Ramos is an aggressive, all-around dangerous fighter. He offers a solid striking attack that is highlighting by a spinning back-fist KO in the UFC. If the fight hits the floor, he is equally, if not more dangerous. He has landed a trio of takedowns on 2 separate occasions- winning both.

Ramos has had some issues with cardio, slowing down after a strong start. He has been finished in both of his pro defeats.

Fighting at home, Garagorri scored a debut win by decision- just the 3rd of his career. He entered the fight having stopped 6 straight opponents in the opening round. All but 1 of those wins coming by submission. It is worth noting that he gave up 4 takedowns in his debut, relying on his vertical output to earn the victory.

This is not the first time that Garagorri has fought in Brazil, but the majority of his recent fights have been on home soil.

Eduardo needs to keep this fight standing and force Ramos to work. If he can make his size a factor, that could be a possibility. Look for Ramos to capitalize on the TDD of his foe, forcing him to the mat with regularity. Once on the ground, the Brazilian will have a noteworthy edge. Ramos is dangerous on the feet, but his cardio and questionable defense are concerns- he will remove them from the equation- my prediction is Ricardo Ramos to defeat Eduardo Garagorri by submission

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155lbs- Francisco Trinaldo (23-6-0) vs Bobby Green (24-9-1)

In a battle of veteran Lightweights, Curitiba’s Francisco Trinaldo takes on California-born “King” Bobby Green. Green has just a single win over his last 6 fights including a draw with Lando Vannata and recent decision defeat to Drakkar Klose. Trinaldo’s 7-fight winning streak gave way to a 2-2 record- most recently dropping a decision to Alexander Hernandez.

Green, the younger man by 8-years, is an inch taller to go along with a 1″ reach advantage.

“King” Bobby Green, has not fought in almost a year and has struggled with overall activity. He fought 5-times in his first 2 years with the promotion followed by just 5 more fights over the next 5-years.

He is fighting outside of the USA for the first time since 2008.

Green is a decent boxer with good technique and a respectable work-rate. Despite his output, he tends to lack urgency in his offense, most notably dropping a decision in which he outlanded his opponent 92-58 and secured the only takedown.

Trinaldo’s success has come largely on his ability to limit his opponent’s offense while putting together a slightly busier and more impactful attack. His recent defeats have come when his opponents have been able to counter that with a pace that the Brazilian was unable to match.

Can Green do the same?

Trinaldo is 9-2 in the UFC when fighting a foreign-born opponent in Brazil and 5-0 for his career when competing in Sao Paulo. He is 2-3 on the road.

Both fighters have had a history of close decisions. Green is 3-2-1 in split decisions and is coming off of a fight he could have been given the nod in. Trinaldo is 2-0 in splits, winning both in Brazil and he is also coming off of a fight that could have gone either way. The volume edge goes to Green, but Trinaldo will bring more pressure, has more power, and is arguably more durable. Look for Trinaldo to press forward, force Green to back up, and land the bigger strikes in a close fight at home- my prediction is Franisco Trinaldo to defeat Bobby Green by (split) decision.

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170lbs- Warlley Alves (13-3-0) vs Randy Brown (10-3-0)

In the UFC Welterweight division, TUF Brazil winner Warlley Alves takes on “Looking for a Fight” product Randy “Rude Boy” Brown. Alves is coming off a stoppage over prelim headliner Sergio Moraes he is 3-3 over his last 6 fights. Brown scored a brutal stoppage win of Bryan Barberena- he is 5-3 in the UFC.

Brown is the taller man by 4-inches to go along with a 6-inch reach advantage. Alves is the younger man by a year.

Fighting at home, Alves is a respectable 5-2 inside the Octagon- including a decision loss to Kamaru Usman. This will be Brown’s first fight outside of the United States.

Brown is coming off an impressive performance, battering and stopping a tough opponent. It was the second knockout victory of his UFC tenure in addition to his UFC personal best striking output.

When the American is unable to force a striking heavy fight, he is not nearly as effective. Brown is 1-2 when giving up at least 2 takedowns and 2-3 when he gives up at least 1 completion.

The undoing of Alves has come in the form of pressure. Barberena overran on route to decision and Krause was able to stop with a volume-based striking attack.

Alves has the ground game to replicate Brown’s previous issues. The Brazilian also appears to have the edge in power, but Brown is far more capable of handling himself on the feet than the mat. If Brown can use his length and keep Alves on the outside, he could do damage and potentially tax his cardio by forcing him to close distance. Brown lacks the grappling of Krause to force a striking battle and Alves will negate his reach by staying close- my prediction is Warlley Alves to defeat James Krause by submission.

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135lbs- Douglas Silva De Andrade (25-3-0 1NC) vs Renan Barao (36-8-0 1NC)

The former Bantamweight champion returns to action as Renan Barao takes on fellow Brazilian Douglas De Andrade in the Bantamweight division. De Andrade is coming off a TKO loss to surging contender Petr Yan- he scored a decision win over Marlon Vera one fight prior. Barao is just 2-6 since he lost his title to TJ Dillashaw- he has lost 4 in a row including fights versus Aljamain Sterling and a recent KO against Luke Sanders.

De Andrade is an inch taller, but Barao will have a 2″ reach advantage. Renan is the younger man by 2-years, despite having fought 43-times (14 more than his foe).

The undoing of Barao was sudden and drastic. The majority of his recent defeats have come due to his inability to deal with his opponents’ pace and the mounting damage he takes in each fight. Conversely, his success has been built around finding the mark with quick finishes or utilizing a grappling heavy attack.

Andrade’s knockout numbers are impressive. He has recorded 19 of his 25 pro wins by (T)KO- 9 in the first round. He has just a single knockout in the UFC.

Nonetheless, Andrade is a sold striker with sizeable power. The last 2 fighters to beat the Brazilian pushed a strong pace that he was unable to match.

He has had issues with his TDD, giving up 8 completions over a trio of Octagon losses.

If Barao could find some semblance of his grappling game, he could put Andrade down with consistency. This would allow the former champion to both limit the damage he is exposed to and avoid stressing is fragile endurance. De Andrade hits hard and has shown he can push a decent pace. Look for him to keep Barao on his back foot for the majority of the fight, cracking him with big shots until he crumbles- my prediction is Douglas De Andrade to defeat Renan Barao by TKO.

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125lbs- Ariane Lipski (11-4-0) vs Isabella de Pauda (5-1-0)

With Veronic Macedo forced out of the fight on weigh-in day, Isabella De Pauda gets the call to take on Ariane Lipski. This will be a catchweight bout as de Pauda was unable to reach the 126-pound limit despite normally fighting at 115-pounds. With just over 24-hours before this fight goes down, the prediction will be short and sweet.

The short notice factor is a major concern for de Pauda, it is as short as you can get. She lost her pro debut, but is undefeated since and has never finished an opponent in the opening round. Her last 3 opponents are all above .500 with an overall record of 11-6.

de Pauda is a confident striker, willing to wade forward behind stiff combos and low kicks. She has shown a willingness to go to the floor, catching a kick for a takedown followed by prolonged top control. She will most likely be at a size and reach disadvantage against Lipski, so covering distance will be key.

It is too bad that Macedo withdrew, it would have been an interesting fight. Nonetheless, Lipski’s size and skill set are the keys here along with de Pauda having almost no time to prep for her toughest opponent yet. Isabella will put up a fight, but Lipski will simply do more- my prediction is Ariane Lipski to defeat Isabella de Pauda by TKO.

 

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125lbs- Ariane Lipski (11-4-0) vs Veronica Macedo (6-3-1)– Cancelled

Fresh off her first win, Veronica Macedo steps in on short notice to battle Brazilian Ariane “Violence Queen” Lipski in the Flyweight division. Lipski is winless in the UFC at 0-2, including a decision loss to Molly McCann earlier this year. Macedo started his UFC run with a trio of defeats including a loss to Andrea Lee- she scored an impressive submission win over Polyana Viana last time out.

Lipski is 2-inches taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Macedo, a southpaw, is a year younger. She is taking the fight with just over a week to prepare.

Over her pair of UFC defeats, Ariane has struggled to match the output of her opposition (193 to 121). She also gave up a trio of takedowns. Prior to coming to the UFC only 2 of her 8 fights went beyond the second round including 4 first-round stoppages.

Macedo has shown herself to be a dangerous grappler, with her impressive submission over Viana. She has also struggled in that department- getting taken down in all of her Octagon bouts.

She is both a Black belt in BJJ and Taekwondo.

Macedo’s quick win was impressive but didn’t do much to answer the questions surrounding her early struggles. Lipski’s volume was her undoing in her 2 UFC bouts, but it will also be the key to her success here. Macedo has struggled to match her opponent’s aggression and tends to fade in longer fights. Look for Lipski to push a strong pace and try to exploit Veronic’s short notice and questionable cardio- my prediction is Ariane Lipski to defeat Veronica Madeco by TKO.

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135lbs- Vanessa Melo (10-6-0) vs Tracy Cortez (6-1-0)

In a fight completely altered by injuries, Vanessa Melo makes her sophomore appearance when she takes on the debuting Tracy Cortez. Melo fell to Irene Aldana in her debut, ending a 5-fight winning streak. Cortez has won 6 in a row since her pro-debut defeat- she is 2-1 in Invicta and earned a decision win on the Contenders Series.

Both girls are 5’5″ and have an identical 65″ reach. Cortez is 5-years younger. Both girls normally fight at Flyweight, but Melo missed weight badly in her short-notice Bantamweight debut.

Leah Letson and Duda Santana were originally scheduled to square off. Letson pulled out in late September and was replaced by Cortez. Santana then withdrew and was replaced by Melo on shorter notice.

Both girls offer decisions heavy records, which could impact Cortez more as she comes in on shorter notice and could struggle to maintain her regular levels of output.

Cortez appears to build a lot of her offense around takedowns and ground control. She is a good wrestler and capable of passing her foe’s guard once they hit the floor.

In her short-notice debut, Melo came in overweight by 5-pounds and fought at altitude. She was unable to handle the pace fo Aldana over the course of 15-minutes.

Melo is fighting at home which is a big advantage, but she is doing so on short notice. If Melo can force her foe to stay vertical, she can counter her way to a decision win. Conversely, Cortez will be looking for a takedown heavy performance. Early this year, Melo struggled with the takedowns of her foe and didn’t look good once on her back. Cortez will have a speed advantage and has had longer to prepare for this fight. Cortez pushes the pace, shoots takedowns, and grind Melo out on the mat- my prediction is Tracy Cortez to defeat Vanessa Melo by decision.

UFN 163

205lbs- Magomed Ankalaev (11-1-0) vs Dalcha Lungiambula (9-1-0)

The final fight of the night goes down in the Light Heavyweight division as Magomed Ankalaev puts his 2-fight winning streak on the line against promotional sophomore Dalcha “Champion” Lungiambula. Ankalaev’s shocking debut defeat has given way to wins over Marcin Prachnio and Klidson Abreu. Lungiambula made a successful debut, finishing Dequan Townsend in his debut to extend his current winning streak to 6 consecutive bouts.

At 6’3″, Ankalaev will stand a full 7-inches taller than Dalcha, but the South African will have 1″ reach advantage. Magomed is the younger man by 5-years.

Lungiambula is a physical specimen with a strong judo background. He recorded his 5th win by knockout in his debut, overpowering his foe throughout the fight before dropping and finishing him early in the final round. Despite his long fight experience, which includes a pair of 5-round fights, he has been known to have some cardio issues if he is unable to score an early finish.

He made his debut after almost exactly 1-year away from competition.

The Russian wrestler has put together a strong UFC start, with his only loss coming via last-second submission in a fight that Magomed dominated. Despite his wrestling and Sambo background, he has yet to complete a takedown in the UFC. Working behind a solid jab and power straight right, he was able to bust up Abreu, resulting in a badly broken nose. He doesn’t throw with a great deal of volume, but his defense helps him to limit his opponent’s success.

Ankalaev went the distance in each of his first 4 pro bouts, but he has since scored knockouts in 6 of 8 wins.

Lungiambula is a physical specimen and has the talent to back his skills up. Ankalaev is the much larger man and has shown a less erratic and more consistent offensive attack. Look for Magomed to bring his size to bear, utilizing his takedowns to both secure top control time and tire “Champion” Dalcha out as he attempts to defend. As the fight advances, the takedowns and control should come easier and the distance striking more effective for the Russian- my prediction is Magomed Ankalaev to defeat Dalcha Lungiambula by decision.

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170lbs- Rustam Khabilov (23-4-0) vs Sergey Khandozhko (25-5-1)

Moving up in weight, Russia’s Rustam “Tiger” Khabilovs battles fellow-countryman Sergey Khandozhko in the Welterweight division. Khabilov is coming off an upset loss to Carlos Ferreira, he had won 6 consecutive bouts including a narrow split decision win over Kajan Johnson in Moscow. Khandozhko made a successful debut in the UFC last June, securing a decision win over fellow debutant Rostem Akman- he has won 3 in a row.

Khandozhko will have a 1″ reach advantage despite standing a full 5-inches taller than the former Lightweight. Sergey is the younger man by 6-years.

With a diversified record, Khandozhko has shown he can finish on the mat and the feet with a solid record in decisions. He put together a solid debut performance in a close fight, leaning on his striking repertoire. He has a tendency to expose himself to takedown when opening up his striking attack with more aggressive and high-risk techniques.

He has bee subbed twice and gave up a pair of takedowns to Akman.

With Khabilov moving up in weight, there could be a concern regarding how well his wrestling heavy attack will hold up against larger men. He has taken down all but 1 of his 12 UFC opponents and averages nearly 4 completions per fight. Rustam has had issues maintaining top position, but his aggressive pursuit of the takedowns allows him to keep his opponent on the defensive.

On the feet, he prefers to counter strikes which has created issues against more active opponents.

This fight should come down to the TDD of Khandozhko and Khabilov’s unending pursuit of the takedown. If Khandozhko can stay vertical, he could outwork Rustam on route to a decision win. If Khabilov can produce his expected wrestling numbers he should be able to do enough in the limited time on the feet to stay ahead of his opponent. Top position time will be key for Rustam- my prediction is Rustam Khabilov to defeat Sergey Khandozhko by decision.

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185lbs- Roman Kopylov (8-0-0) vs Karl Roberson (7-2-0)

Carrying an undefeated record into his debut, Russian Middleweight Roman Kopylov takes on 5-fight UFC veteran Karl Roberson. Roberson is coming off of a split decision win over Wellington Turman- he is 3-2 in the UFC. Kopylov is fighting for the first time in 2019 after a strong 2-0 run in 2018- he made his pro debut in early 2016.

Roberson is an inch taller, but Kopylov will have a 1″ reach advantage and is the younger man by a year.

The American comes from a striking background, but he has found a great deal of success on the mat. Roberson has recorded a trio of submission wins and bested Jack Marshman largely on his ability to complete takedowns.

Conversely, he has also been subbed twice and gave up 4 takedowns in a narrow split decision in his last fight.

Kopylov ented the UFC having finish 7 of his 8 opponents by knockout- but only 1 in the first frame. He owns a pair of 3rd round knockouts and 2 more in the 4th frame. In his most recent outing, he scored the finish with a vicious body shot but routinely allowed his opponent to lead the striking exchanges.

His debut was originally scheduled for April against Krzysztof Jotko.

Roberson may opt to take this bout to the floor in order to short circuit the striking skills of Kopylov. The Russian has demonstrated strong defensive skills on the regional circuit. On the feet, Kopylov appears to be the sharper striker with better finishing instincts. The long fight experience is a positive for a young fighter. Debuting is difficult, but so is fighting in Russia for the first time. Look for Kopylov to deny the TDAs and progressively land more and more strikes as the fight advances- my prediction is Roman Kopylov to defeat Karl Roberson by TKO.

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170lbs- Abubakar Nurmagomedov (15-2-0) vs David Zawada (16-5-0)

Following in the steps of his cousin, Abubakar Nurmagomedov makes his UFC debut against German David Zawada in the Welterweight division. Nurmagomedov is coming off a PFL draw against UFC veteran Bojan Velickovic- he is 7-1-1 over his last 9. Zawada 5-fight winning steak ended in his promotional debut, he has now lost back to back fights to Danny Roberts and Jingliang Li.

The German is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is also the younger man by a year.

This will be the first time that Zawada has had a full camp for a UFC bout. He has recorded 11 wins by knockout but is 5-5 in all other fights that end via another method.

That being said, he is willing to compete on the mat. In his fight with Roberts, he relinquished top position on a couple of occasions to look for a submission which arguably cost him the fight.

With an extensive freestyle wrestling and Sambo background, Nurmagomedov builds his attack around his ground game. He offers a solid level change, often punching and changing levels for a deep double leg. His top control is strong and he is more apt to look for GNP finish that submission.

On the feet, he can throw hands and will mix it kicks and knees, but his striking is a second aspect of his offense. He got dropped in his most recent loss prior to getting subbed.

Zawada will most likely engage Abubakar in the battle on the mat which isn’t ideal for the German. If David can maintain separation he may have just enough power to wobble the Nurmagomedov and take over the fight. Zawada’s gas tank is a concern, especially if he spends the majority of the fight defending takedowns and top position. Fighting at home, Nurmagomedov puts together a strong, grinding attack against a willing, but fading foe- my prediction is Abubakar Nurmagomedov to defeat David Zawada by decision.

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155lbs- Alexander Yakovlev (24-8-1) vs Roosevelt Roberts (8-1-0)

In the UFC’s Lightweight division, Alexander “Thunder of the North” Yakovlev defends home turf against American Roosevelt Roberts. Yakovlev secured a submission win in his last fight, to end a 2 fight skid that included a decision loss to the current Welterweight champion. Roberts is coming off the first loss of his career, dropping a decision to Vinc Pichel after starting his UFC tenure with back to back wins.

Yakovlev has formerly fought at Welterweight. He is an inch taller than Roberts to go along with an inch reach advantage. Roberts is the younger man by 10-years.

With both fighters standing above the Lightweight average, it will be interesting to see who it effects more.

The Russian is coming off a fight that was contested largely on the mat and he appeared to be getting the worst of the exchanges until he secured a submission.

Yakovlev has been submitted 4-times and is 0-2 in fights where he losses the takedown battle.

Roberts is coming off his first career loss which is a motivating factor. The majority of his success has been grappling based. He earned the 4th submission of his career in his debut and has completed 4 takedowns over his last 2 fights.

Against Pichel, Roberts was unable to maintain control of his opponent on the floor and couldn’t match him on the feet.

Roberts is replacing Pichel on 3-weeks notice.

Yakovlev has been an up and down fighter and his UFC wins haven’t held up that well. Roberts is the better wrestler and should be able to close the gap with regularity to set up his wrestling. Roosevelt’s striking game is still a work in progress that opens the door for the Russian to edge him out if he can stay away. Look for a motivated Roberts to control Yakovlev in the clinch and on the mat while outhustling him in the in-between stages- my prediction is Roosevelt Roberts to defeat Alexander Yakovlev by decision.

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135lbs- Jessica-Rose Clark (9-5-0 1NC) vs Pannie Kianzad (12-5-0)

In a rematch from 2015, Aussie Jessica-Rose Clark takes on Sweden’s Pannie Kianzad in the women’s Bantamweight division. Clark won a trio of bouts to begin her UFC tenure before falling to eventual title challenger Jessica Eye by decision. Kianzad is 0-2 in the UFC with losses to Macy Chiasson and Julia Avila.

Clark had been fighting at Flyweight in the UFC, but she has previously competed at 135-pounds. Pannie will stand 2-inches taller and have a 2″ reach advantage. Pannie is the younger girl by 4-years and has previously fought at Featherweight dude to her own issues making weight.

Their first fight took place under the Invicta banner with Kianzad taking a decision to remain undefeated. She has gone 3-5 since the victory. Clark has gone 4-3 with a No Contest in the aftermath.

In their first meeting, the striking exchanges were relatively even. Pannie turned the fight in her favour with takedowns in round 1 and 2. Clark attacked off her back, but she was unable to get vertical.

JRC had more success in round 3 pressuring forward, but she was clearly tired and unable to make up for the first 2 rounds.

This fight could very well play out in a similar fashion to their first meeting. Pannie is the longer and larger girl which will be a factor when they lock up. At 5-5, Clark’s record in decisions is not strong and the layoff is a concern if it results in a slow start in a close fight. At 0-2 in the UFC, Kianzad needs a win and this will necessitate a return to her previously successful gameplan- my prediction is Pannie Kianzad to defeat Jessica-Rose Clark by decision.

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135lbs- Grigorii Popov (13-1-0) vs Davey Grant (10-4-0)

The first fight of the night features the sophomore appearance of Grigorii Popov as he takes on the UK’s Davey Grant in the Bantamweight division. Popov’s 9-fight winning streak came to an end with a vicious knockout defeat against Eddie Wineland. Grant has lost 2 in a row and 3 of 4 with his only win during that stretch coming over Marlon Vera.

Grant is an inch taller and will have an inch reach advantage. Davey is also the younger man by a year- he hasn’t fought in 16-months.

Popov came to the UFC with a striking based attack, finishing 7 of 13 opponents. He struggled with the accurate, power-punching of Wineland prior to getting finished. Early in round 2, he hurt Wineland but couldn’t finish him.

Prior to coming to the UFC, his last 3 regional opponents were a combined 5-8. This raised some questions about his ability to deal with the improved level of competition at the UFC level.

Grants’ career has largely been determined on the mat. Of his 10 career wins, 8 have come on the floor. Conversely, all 4 of his pro losses have come on the mat. The 4 fighters that have defeated Grant have a combined 24 wins by submission.

In his only UFC win, he landed an impressive 72 significant strikes.

Grant’s layoff is concerning, but his grappling skills represent the most significant skill set in this fight. Popov has had issues with grappling oriented fighters less skilled than Davey. The Russian has some pop in his hands, but unless he can defend the takedowns he won’t be in a position to utilize those skills. Popov’s lack of quality victories are hard to overlook- my prediction is Davey Grant to defeat Grigorii Popov by submission.

UFC 244

205lbs- #7 Corey Anderson (13-4-0) vs #11 Johnny Walker (17-3-0)

The final fight of the undercard will potentially determine a future contender for the Light Heavyweight championship as Johnny Walker takes on Corey “Overtime” Anderson. Walker is undefeated in the UFC with a trio of stoppages wins including victories over Misha Cirkunov and Justin Ledet. Anderson rebounded from a 1-3 skid to win a trio of fights including decisions over Glover Teixeira and Ilir Latifi.

At 6’5″, Walker is 2-inches taller than Anderson and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Johnny is the younger man by 3-years.

With a stark contrast in success criteria, both fighters will be looking to bring their style to bear.

Walker has been all about abrupt and devastating finishes. His longest UFC fight lasted just under 2-minutes and he has 13 first-round stoppages overall including 9 in the opening 2-minutes. Anderson is 1-3 in his last 4 fights not to go the distance.

For the American, he needs to force Walker into unfamiliar territory. In a continuance of stats-based analysis- Corey is 8-1 in decisions with his only defeat coming in a narrow split decision. Walker is just 3-2 outside of the first round and has fought longer than 5-minutes just twice in his last 11 fights.

Anderson’s success comes in the form of consistent striking mixed with takedowns. He has completed 44-takedowns over his 8 wins prior to the Latifi bout. Walker has been taken down before and while he can get up, he can’t afford to spend too much time on his back.

The Brazilian’s length and explosive striking style, coupled with his power makes him a threat whenever he is vertical. Anderson has been knocked out 3-times.

Walker’s success has left a lot of questions that could be answered on Saturday. Most importantly. how does he fare against a capable wrestler with solid striking in a fight that last more than a few minutes? Anderson could present that scenario and if Corey is able to implement even a semblance of his game, he stands a strong chance to win. Conversely, Corey’s durability and perceived vulnerability against less capable strikers is a major concern. Walker needs to be mindful of being too reckless in pursuit of the finish, but he will find his mark- my prediction is Johnny Walker to defeat Corey Anderson by knockout.

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145lbs- #12 Shane Burgos (11-1-0) vs Makwan Amirkhani (14-3-0)

Making his first trip stateside, Finland’s Makwan Amirkhani attempts to crack the ranks when he takes on “Hurricane” Shane Burgos in the Featherweight division. Burgos rebounded from the first loss of his career and has since secure back to back wins, including a split decision win over veteran Cub Swanson. Amrikhani is 5-1 in the UFC, most recently submitting Chris Fishgold in June.

Burgos is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is the younger fighter by 3-years.

At first glance, this contest represents a clash of styles. Burgos has had the majority of his success on the feet, engaging his opponent with a striking centric attack. Amirkhani’s forte has been his grappling- 10 of his 15 wins have come on the mat and he has completed 13 takedowns over his last 5 fights.

A deeper dive into this pairing suggests otherwise. Burgos was knocked out my Calvin Kattar and rocked by Kurt Holobaugh and Makwan made his debut with a spectacular flying knee knockout. Conversely, once knocked down, Burgos secured an armbar submission of Holobaugh- the 5th of his career.

Amirkhani’s lone UFC loss came in a fight that was spent primarily on the mat with the 2 fighters combining for 7 takedowns.

Burgos’s questionable chin and tendency to get over-aggressive creates the potential for Amirkhani to counter with fight changing strikes or a takedown. Unfortunately, the Fin’s cardio and second-best striking creates a greater window for “Hurricane” Shane to secure the victory. The American will push the pace, defend takedowns, and keep engaging as his foe slows down- my prediction is Shane Burgos to defeat Makwan Amirkhani by TKO.

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185lbs- #11 Brad Tavares (17-5-0) vs Edmen Shahbazyan (10-0-0)

Undefeated Edmen Shahbazyan continues his climb up the ranks as he meets 17-fight UFC veteran Brad Tavares in the Middleweight division. Tavares lost his last outing to the now champion Israel Adesanya- he had won 4 in a row. Shahbazyan is 3-0 in the UFC, finishing each of his last 2 opponents in a combined 110-seconds.

Shahbazyan is the taller fighter by a year, but they will have the same reach. He is the younger man by 10-year.

Not only has Shahbazyan fought beyond the first round just once, but he has also finished 7 opponents inside the first 90-seconds. Coming off his first submission skills, Edmen showed he is able to fight to his opponent’s weakness. In his debut, he scored a split decision win- starting strong early and fading badly in the latter stages of the fight.

Edmen has outlanded his last 2 opponents by a combined 26-1 total.

Tavares has been out nearly 16-months. His most recent success was built around his ability to limit his opponent’s offense to further magnify his own. Brad hasn’t showcased a lot of power and averages just slightly more strikes landed than absorbed, so it is crucial to limit his foe’s success. He does this mainly by sitting on the outside and picking away with kicks and quick combos.

Tavares has been knocked out twice. His last 2 losses have come against the last 2 fighters to hold divisional gold.

This is a clash of an abrupt finisher with a patient veteran striker. Shahbazyan’s performance in his only fight to go beyond the first frame is concerning. Tavares will need to be defensively responsible early and deal with the aggression of his foe. Look for Brad to maintain distance, land low kicks and stiff combos, forcing his foe into unfamiliar territory- my prediction is Brad Tavares to defeat Edmen Shahbazyan by decision.

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265lbs- Andrei Arlovski (27-18-0 2NC) vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik (8-0-0)

The first televised fight features former Heavyweight champion Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski taking on undefeated striker Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Arlovski defeated Ben Rothwell in July to end a 4 fight winless streak- he has just 3 wins over his last 12 fights. Rozenstruik improved to 2-0 in the UFC win a 9-second knockout of Allen Crowder.

Rozenstruik in an inch taller and will have a 1″ reach advantage. They will weigh roughly the same amount, but Jairzinho is 9-years younger than Arlovski.

Andrei has fought better than his recent record would suggest. He has lost a couple of narrow decisions that could have gone either way. The former champion is coming off an impressive victory, landing his UFC best 152-significant strikes. Arlovski has landed more offense than his foe in 3 straight fights.

Arlovski has shown a willingness to continually recreate himself, integrating more takedowns and a steady increase in volume over his recent fights.

Rozenstruik opened his pro-MMA run with 4 straight first frame knockout wins. He has fought beyond the first round just twice. An experienced kickboxer, Jairzinho needs to be mindful of his opponents’ willingness to try and take him to the mat. In his debut, he spent the majority of his opening round on the mat and on the defensive. He secured an abrupt stoppage in round 2 with a punching barrage. He stopped Allen Crowder with a stiff counter and smashing ground and pound.

It could be argued that he has won less than 20 total seconds of action since coming to the UFC. His 2 opponents are a combined 2-6.

Arlovski’s history with knockouts is hard to overlook when considering Rozenstruik’s striking skills and power. That being said, Andrei hasn’t been knocked out in 9-fights. Rozenstruik’s minimal long fight experience and questionable defensive grappling creates significant potential for Andrei to take him down and either finish him or drag him deep into the bout. Arlovski showcases his experience, takes Rozenstruik horizontal early and often, outworking him late- my prediction is Andrei Arlovski to defeat Jairzinho Rozenstruik by decision.

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125lbs- 1# Katlyn Chookagian (11-2-0) vs #5 Jennifer Maia (16-5-1)

The final fight of the early prelims features the potential crowning of the next Flyweight contender as a top-ranked Katlyn Chookagian takes on Brazil’s Jennifer Maia. Chookagian has won 4 of 5, including a decision win over Joanne Calderwood in her last fight. Maia is 8-1 in her last 8 fights, rebounding from a debut defeat to defeat Alexis Davis and Roxanne Modafferi.

Chook is the taller fighter by 5-inches to go along with a 4″ reach advantage. They are the same age.

Chookagian is a striking based fighter with a reputation for utilizing a high volume attack. Conversely, with just a 32% striking accuracy rate Katlyn is active but struggles to land with regularity. Her opponents have landed more strikes than her in 4-straight fights and 5 of 6.

Her last finish came back in 2016, before entering the UFC. She is 9-2 in decisions, including a 1-2 record in splits.

The Brazilian has gone the distance in 7 straight fights (6-1), but unlike her opponent, she is far more aggressive. Fighting out of Chute Boxe Academy, she has just 3 wins by knockout but she hits hard and brings a lot of forward pressure. Against Davis, she hurt her with a couple of heavy clinch punches and was able to continually back Roxy up during the exchanges.

Maia has had issues with her TDD and she has been known as bit of a slow starter, forced to rally late in fights.

Both have struggled when put on their back and either could grab an edge there. Both girls have a tendency to get outlanded by their foe but still win. Maia with power and Chook with activity. Katyln needs to stay light and mobile, working the perimeter of the cage while scoring points. Maia needs to crash forward and land with regularity to keep Chook on the defensive. Maia will have difficulty tracking Chookagian down, struggling with her movement and reach- my prediction is Katlyn Chookagian to defeat Jennifer Maia by (split) decision.

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170lbs- Lyman Good (20-5-0 1NC) vs Chance Rencountre (13-3-0)

Looking to build on back to back upset wins, Chance “Black Eagle” Rencountre takes on former Bellator champion Lyman “American Cyborg” Good in the Welterweight division. After a loss to Belal Muhammad in his debut, Rencountre has turned around his UFC career with wins over Kyle Stewart and Ismail Naurdiev. Good is 2-2 in the promotion, most recently suffering a submission loss to former title challenger Demian Maia- he owns a knockout win over Ben Saunders.

Rencountre is the taller man by 2-inches to go along with a 1″ reach advantage. He is a year younger than Good.

Good has had issues remaining active and will be fighting twice in a calendar year for the first time since 2015. He has solid power 10 opponents by knockout- 2 in the UFC.

Where the “American Cyborg” has been vulnerable has been in the defensive wrestling phase of his game. He is coming off the first submission loss of his career and opponents have opted to look for a ground-oriented offense against him.

Rencountre is coming off of a pair of grappling-heavy wins. While he has just 3 submission wins (2 by RNC), they have all transpired over his last 4 wins. Against, Naurdiev he utilized his size to routinely take the Austrian to the floor and keep him on the mat.

In his debut, Chance struggled to match Belal’s output at 70 to 16. When Naurdiev was on his feet he was able to land strikes with regularity and overall his willingness to eat offense has resulted in a 5-3 record in decisions.

Lyman needs to maintain space and utilize his superior striking attributes. Rencountre will want to close distance, tie up, and eventually drag Good to the floor. Good does a solid job of disengaging when his opponent looks for a takedown. The majority of Rencountre’s completed TDs come when his foe is unable to break away. Good will work an anti-clinch defense and rely heavily on his boxing attack- my prediction is Lyman Good to defeat Chance Rencoutre by decision.

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145lbs- Julio Arce (15-3-0) vs Hakeem Dawodu (9-1-1)

The first fight of the night goes down in the Featherweight division as New York trained Julio Arce takes on Canadian “Mean” Hakeem Dawodu. Arce scored a head kick KO of Julian Erosa to rebound from his split decision loss to Sheymon Moraes. Dawodu has won a trio of fights since his unsuccessful debut, most recently scoring a head kick stoppage of Yoshinori Horie.

The Canadian is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by 2-years.

Dawodu has steadily put together better and better performances inside the Octagon. His striking technique is solid and he is coming off his first UFC knockout and 7th overall. In addition to his finishing ability, his volume and overall sound defense has put him at a sizeable advantage in the striking totals.

He has outlanded his last 3 opponents by a total of 258 to 104. He finished just 2 opponents in the first frame.

Offering a more diverse offense, Arce has secured 9 finishes- 5 by submission including 1 in the UFC. Despite his skills on the mat, he has offered minimal focus on the ground attack; landing just 2 takedowns at a 28% completion rate. He may opt to try and take Hakeem to the floor to negate his striking skills.

In Arce’s sole UFC defeat, he got cut early by Arce and struggled to get back into a fight that was primarily contested on the feet.

If the American can utilize his grappling attack he adds a new dimension to this fight that favours him significantly. On the feet, Arce struggled with Moraes and Dawodu will offer a similarly troublesome attack. Hakeem is the more impactful striker and appears to have the edge in offensive output along with defensive striking. His length will also aid him during the vertical exchanges. Julio is fighting at home, but that won’t be enough- my prediction is Hakeem Dawodu to defeat Julio Arce by decision.

 

UFC Fight Night 162

115lbs- Randa Markos (9-7-1) vs Ashley Yoder (6-4-0)

The final fight of the undercard was bitten by the injury-bug with Yan Xiaonan replaced by Canadian Randa Markos as she now takes on Ashley Yoder. Yoder started her UFC run with a trio of defeats, but she has since picked back to back wins over Amanda Cooper and Syuri Kondo. Markos lost a decision to Claudia Gadelha in her last fight- she is 5-6-1 in the UFC.

Yoder is 3-inches taller and will have a sizable 6″ reach advantage. The American is 2-years younger.

With the majority of each fighters’ success has come predominantly on the mat. Yoder a BJJ Brown belt has submitted 4 opponents and completed at least 1 takedown in all but 1 of her UFC fights. Similarly, Markos has 4 submission wins and 16 takedowns in 12 Octagon bouts.

Both girls are sub .500 on the scorecards. Yoder is 2-1 in split decisions and Markos is 1-2.

Markos has faced a better level of competition, but Yoder has found more recent success. Randa is the better striker, with better technique and power. If either girl can establish ground dominance, that is their key to victory. Yoder struggled with the grappling of Amanda Cooper, who is a lighter version of Markos. If Randa doesn’t wear down, she will get the better of the striking exchanges and hold superior position when they hit the floor- my prediction is Randa Markos to defeat Ashley Yoder by decision.

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155lbs- Alex White (13-5-0) vs Rafael Fiziev (6-1-0)

After a brief and unsuccessful debut, Rafael Fiziev attempts to rebound against 9-fight UFC veteran Alex “The Spartan Whit in the Lightweight division. White is coming off a decision win over Dan Moret to improve to 3-5 in the UFC. Fiziev suffered a first frame TKO loss to Magomed Mustafaev- the first loss of his career.

White is 4-inches taller, but they have an identical reach. Fiziev is the younger man by 5-years.

A former Featherweight, White hasn’t found much more success at 155-pounds. Despite his 5-5 split of finishes, he has spent the majority of his time on the feet. Fiziev is a strong striker finishing 5 of his 6 wins by knockout- all but 1 in the first frame. White has been knocked out once, but was also dropped by Jim Miller prior to getting submitted.

Fiziev was dropped with a turning side kick by Mustafaev before he had an opportunity to settle in.

White is the physically larger man, but Fiziev is the better striker and has some wrestling to fall back on. There are questions about Rafael’s chin after his debut, but White’s troublesome durability is more of a certainty at this point. The American is very hittable and has struggled with less capable strikers. Defensively, White is just too vulnerable- my prediction is Rafael Fiziev to defeat Alex White by TKO.

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145lbs- Enrique Barzola (16-4-1) vs Movsar Evloev (11-0-0)

In the Featherweight division, Peru’s Enrique Barzola heads on the road to meets promotional sophomore Movsar Evloev. Barzola earned a split decision from Bobby Moffett, to improve to 5-1 over his last 6 fights. Evloev maintained his perfect record with a decision win over Sung Woo Choi in his debut.

The Russian is the younger man by 5-years and will have a 2″ reach advantage. Evloev has traditionally fought at 135-pounds.

Evloev is coming off a 5 takedown performance, controlling his foe from top position for the duration of the fight. Barzola has also had a lot of success based on his takedown skills, securing 39 takedowns over 6 UFC wins. He has completed just 1 of 17 TDAs in his 2 Octagon losses.

The Russian carries a steady pace, but his striking attack is based entirely on closing the distance. Barzola had developed a serviceable striking attack, based heavily on his kicking attack.

With a pair of takedown dependent fighters, there are 2 key scenarios that will determine this fight. Who can establish a superior wrestling attack and/or who can get the better of the striking exchanges? Barzola should be the slightly larger man and his wrestling has proven solid at the UFC level. If Evloev can’t take him down with regularity, Enrique is the more capable striker. Barzola might mix in a couple of takedowns, but he will force Evloev out of his comfort zone into a fight primarily contested on the feet- my prediction is Enrique Barzola to defeat Movsar Evloev by decision.

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265lbs- Sergei Pavlovich (12-1-0) vs Maurice Greene (8-3-0)

In the 2nd of 3 Heavyweight bouts on the card, Russia’s Sergei Pavlovich takes on Maurice “The Crochet Boss” Greene. Greene is 3-0 in the UFC, most recently falling Junior Albini by first-round TKO. Pavlovich is 1-1, debuting with a loss to Alistair Overeem before returning for a 66-second KO of Marcelo Golm.

Greene is a massive 6’7″ and will stand 4-inches taller than Pavlovich, but Sergei will have a 4″ reach advantage. They should weigh-in roughly at the same weight- the Russian is 6-years younger.

Pavlovich comes from a wrestling background and would most likely benefit from closing the distance and taking Greene to the floor. Conversely, “The Crochet Boss” will look to maintain distance with a high volume kicking attack.

Despite coming from a kickboxing background, Greene has 4 wins by submission compared to a pair of knockout victories.

If either of these fighters can land flush, the bout will most likely come to a crashing halt. Pavlovich has a limited history beyond the first frame, so getting the quick finish is far more imperative to the big Russian. Despite the slight reach advantage, Sergei will have trouble finding his range against Greene. Look for Greene to utilize his kicks and more linear punches to routinely land first, either dropping him early or hurting him as he slows down in a longer fight- my prediction is Maurice Greene to defeat Sergei Pavlovich by TKO.

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115lbs- Alexandra Albu (3-1-0) vs Loma Lookboonmee (3-1-0)

In the Women’s Strawweight division, Alexandra Albu welcomes the debuting Loma Lookboonmee. Albu is coming off her first career loss, a 61-second submission defeat to Emil Whitmire. Thailands’s Lookboonmee rebounded from her first pro defeat to earn a unanimous decision win in her return to Invicta FC.

Albu is an inch taller, but Lookboonmee is the younger girl by 6-years. The Thai fighter has formally competed at 105-pounds.

It will be the first time in her pro career that Albu has competed twice in a calendar year. She has struggled to remain active, especially since coming to the UFC. Loma debuted in 2018 after an impressive career as a Muay Thai fighter, she fought 3-times in her first year and once so far in 2019.

Loma is a strong striker, but she has had success on the mat as well. Albu did not look good in her last fight and her 2 UFC wins have come over opponents with a combined 1-7 UFC record.

Albu could have a physical edge as the larger girl, but from a skill perspective, the edge appears to lie with Lookboonmee. The Russian’s path to victory is most likely on the mat, imposing her size from top position. For Loma, she will chew Alexandra up on the feet, capitalizing on Albu’s lack of head movement. Lookboonmee can do damage on the inside with elbows and knees, but she needs to be careful of trying to match strength with her foe. Technique will overcome physicality as Loma punishes Albu continuous forward pressure- my prediction is Loma Lookboonmee to defeat Alexandra Albu by decision.[/Body]

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265lbs- Raphael Pessoa (9-1-0) vs Jeff Hughes (10-2-0)

The opening fight of the night features Brazil’s Raphael Pessoa taking in Jeff “Lights Out” Hughes in the Heavyweight division. Hughes lost a decision to Maurice Greene in his short-notice debut and saw unfortunate No Contest versus Todd Duffee. Pessoa’s undefeated record came crashing down via submission against main carder Ciryl Gane.

Pessoa is an inch taller than Hughes, to go along with a 1″ reach advantage and he should be 12-15 pounds heavier. Hughes is the older man by a year.

Pessoa was swinging big hammers in his debut, but landed just 7 significant strikes. He has finish 6 of his 9 wins in the opening frame. Hughes is a bit of a slow starter and struggled to find success early against Greene. He is 2-1 in 5 round fights and 5-1 overall in decisions.

Hughes needs to get off to a better start, but he also would benefit by dragging his foe into the latter stages of the fight. Hughes’ wrestling gives him the option to take Pessoa down if the striking exchanges aren’t going his way. Pessoa will come out throwing bombs, but Hughes should be able to avoid/ absorb the big strikes from the Brazilian while landing his own. Hughes will land with more regularity and do some damage from top position, distancing himself in rounds 2 and 3- my prediction is Jeff Hughes to defeat Raphael Pessoa by Decision.

UFC on ESPN 6

145lbs- Charles Rosa (11-3-0) vs Manny Bermudez (14-1-0)

In the final fight of the undercard, “Boston Strong” Charles Rosa could take on the role of the visitor as he battles Boston-native Manny Bermudez in the Featherweight division. Bermudez is coming off his first career defeat, a decision loss to Casey Kenney- he is 3-1 inside the Octagon. Rosa is 2-3 in the promotion, with wins over Kyle Bochniak and Sean Soriano.

Bermudez had missed weight in back to back bouts and came in heavy on Thursday despite moving up a weightclas. Manny is an inch taller to go along with a 2″ reach advantage. Manny is the younger man by 8-years.

Rosa hasn’t fought in nearly 30-months after a couple of fights in 2017 and 2018 were scrapped. Until his last fight, the first stoppage loss of his career, he has been pretty durable. He offers a blend of unorthodox striking and serviceable grappling. His only UFC finish was the 7th submission win of his career.

A lot of Rosa’s fights are contested on the floor. He has scored 14 takedowns while giving up 8 over 5 UFC bouts.

A horizontally-oriented contest should suit Bermudez just fine. He is the owner of 11 submission wins, accounting for all but 3 of his pro victories. He is adept at forcing his foe into a grappling exchange and chaining his sub attempts together until something sticks. His willingness to fight on the floor allows him to move forward and throw heavy strikes that could result in his opponent attempting to panic wrestle.

Manny missed weight against Kenney and was unable to find enough success on the mat to earn the decision. If the cut was once again too draining, could he falter if this fight goes beyond the first frame?

The layoff is a massive concern for Rosa. So is Bermudez moving up a weight class and still missing weight. How does he fare against larger men? Will he be able to bring his grappling to bear? Rosa is simply too prone to getting dragged to the floor and he has had issues with lesser ground fighters. Look for Bermudez to stalk forward with big strikes, clinch, and drag “Boston Strong” to the mat- my prediction is Manny Bermudez to defeat Charles Rosa by submission.

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125lbs- Molly McCann (8-2-0) vs Diana Belbita (11-4-0)

In the first of 2 Women’s Flyweight fights on the card, England’s Molly “Meatball” McCann takes on the debuting Diana Belbita of Belgium in an all European endeavor. After getting smashed in her debut by Gillian Robertson, McCann has rebounded with back to back wins including a decision victory over Ariane Lipski in her most recent outing. Belbita has won 4 in a row and 8 of 10- she suffered a 2017 submission defeat to the aforementioned Lipski.

Belbita is the taller girl by 3-inches and she will have a 6″ reach advantage. She is the younger fighter by 6-years.

The Belgian has recorded 10 of 13 wins by finish, 6 by knockout. She has also been submitted in all 3 of her pro losses. Belbita comes from a kickboxing background and will most likely look to engage McCann on the feet. Despite her combat base, Belbita is a little wild on the feet. She walks forward behind wide punches, eating her strikes and she will lock up a Thai clinch and deliver knees in close.

Belbita’s last 4 opponents are a combined 4-7. The last girl she fought with more than 2 victories held just a 5-3 record and defeated Diana by submission.

The Brit got hammered on the mat by Robertson, but she has received better stylistic matchups in her last 2 fights. A boxer, McCann has blasted her last 2 foes with 100+ strikes landed in each fight. She has some pop in her hands but has yet to showcase her striking skills at this level.

While she is far from elite, Molly has augmented her striking attack with an improved grappling game. She has secured 4 takedowns over her last 2 fights.

Unless Belbita can clip McCann and hurt her early, she is going to find minimal success here. McCann is the more capable striker. She can land takedowns against the questionable defense of Diana. And finally, Molly has face vastly superior competition. While Molly’s best attribute is her striking, she should have a greater advantage on the mat. Look for Molly to continue her pursuit of a well-rounded attack by putting her foe on the floor with regularity- my prediction is Molly McCann to defeat Diana Belbita by decision.

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145lbs- Kyle Bochniak (8-4-0) vs Sean Woodson (6-0-0)

Despite a couple of strong performances, Bochniak faces the potential end of his UFC tenure when he defends home turf against the debut Sean Woodson. Bochniak dropped a split decision to Hakeem Dawodu and is just 2-4 in the UFC, including a 1-1 record fighting in Boston. Woodson is coming off of a successful Contenders fight, scoring a middle frame knockout.

Woodson is a towering 6’2″, 7-inches taller than Bochniak to go along with an 8″ reach advantage. He is the younger fighter by 5-years.

Bochniak put forth a strong performance against Zabit Magomedsharipov, but his struggles with mounting enough effective offense continued. He gets outlanded by his opponent at an almost 2:1 exchange rate and has yet to connect on more significant strikes than any of his adversaries- even in his 2 UFC wins.

Bochniak did pick up a trio of takedowns against Brandon Davis and 2 in his last outing.

On the Contenders Series, Woodson utilized a sharp jab to punish his foe on the outside. Conversely, once his foe got in close he was able to take him down and attack from back mount. Woodson spent a lot of the fight in a defensive position on the floor, losing the entire fight until he landed a jumping knee for the finish.

Prior to his last bout, Woodson had faced just a single opponent with an above .500 record. He defeated him twice to, knocking his career mark to 4-2.

If Woodson can keep Bochniak on the outside he will further limit the output of the local fighter and take a wide decision. Conversely, Bochniak will need to close the gap and take his foe to the floor. Bochniak fought well against a similarly lengthed Zabit, but in this bout, Kyle will have the edge in grappling. Look for the local fighter to crash forward, score takedowns and grind out his inexperienced opposition- my prediction is Kylr Bochniak to defeat Sean Woodson by decision.

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135lbs- Randy Costa (4-1-0) vs Boston Salmon (6-1-0)

Looking to rebound from unsuccessful debuts, Massachusetts-native Randy Costa and Bostom Salmon both make their sophomore appearances inside the Octagon. Costa’s loss was the first of his pro career, succumbing via submission in the middle round to Brandon Davis. Salmon lasted just 25-seconds, falling via TKO to Khalid Taha in April.

Both fighters are 5’9″, but Costa will have a 4″ reach advantage. Costa is the younger man by 4-years.

Salmon never got out of the starting gate in his debut. During his Contenders bout, he showcased a capable striking attack- utilizing a counter heavy offense. He does a decent job of landing strikes every time his opponent moves into range and with 4-wins by knockout he has some decent pop. He comes from a boxing background and has finished 4 of his 6 wins by knockout.

Prior to his UFC debut, Salmon had been out of action for roughly 22-months.

Lasting into the middle frame, Costa had a much more productive debut. He has issues on the mat and Davis was able to exploit that. Prior to getting subbed, he was able to routinely land quality strikes on Davis. Costa throws a nice variety of kicking attacks and hard punches that were clearly giving Davis issues.

Prior to his debut, Randy’s longest fight lasted just 71-seconds and he clearly slowed down as the fight with Davis progressed.

It is hard to get behind a fighter that got brutally knocked out inside the first minute of his debut. Salmon is the more economical striker, but Costa has the skills to replicate Boston’s debut defeat. Look for Costa to come out firing early with Salmon rolling into a counter striking mode. Once Costa starts to slow down, Salmon will press forward and land more of his offense- my prediction is Boston Salmon to defeat Randy Costa by TKO.

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170lbs- Court McGee (20-7-0) vs Sean Brady (10-0-0)

TUF 11 winner Court “The Crusher” McGee welcomes promotional newcomer Sean Brady to the UFC’s Welterweight division. McGee is coming off a split decision loss to Dhiego Lima- he has lost 3 of his last 4 fights. Brady makes his debut of a 4th round main event knockout at CFFC 72 back in February and he holds a 2018 win over TUF 16 winner Colton Smith.

Court is an inch taller and will have a 3″ reach advantage. Brady is the younger fighter by 8 years.

Brady has finished a trio of opponents by knockout and 2 more by sub with a 5-0 record in decisions. He is coming off of a 4 round fight with some quality long fight experience. He offers a complete attack with decent striking and a capable wrestling attack.

While Brady has been called out for his lack of finishes, his cardio is a solid weapon that he has utilized on more than one occasion.

The 9-year UFC veteran, McGee weaponized his cardio in the early stage of his career. Pushing a torrid pace and throwing with solid volume. Despite his decision heavy-style, McGee is just 1-3 over his last 4 decisions. His striking output has taken a stark downturn, averaging just under 50 strikes per fight over his last 8 bouts (3-5) compared to 90 strikes per fight over the first 6 contest after his TUF win- he went 4-2.

“The Crusher” has gone the distance in all but 1 of his last 13 fights.

McGee’s drop-off in offensive output coupled with his lack of finishing ability is a major concern. Brady appears to offer a similar base, but with more speed and a little less mileage. If Brady struggles with the pressure of his debut, he could fall behind the veteran early and never catch up. Instead, look for Brady to come out firing early and outpace Court in rounds 2 and 3- my prediction is Sean Brady to defeat Court McGee by decision.

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185lbs- Kevin Holland (17-4-0) vs Brendan Allen (11-3-0)

With Eric Spicely off of the card, Kevin Holland steps up to face the debuting Brendan Allen in the Middleweight division. Holland has won 3 in a row since his debut defeat against Thiago Santos- he most recently scored a decision win over Alessio Di Chirico. Allen earned a call to the big show with a submission win on the Contenders series- he has won 4 in a row and 10 of his last 12.

Holland will have just 2 weeks to prepare for this fight, but he was booked to compete in early November. He is an inch taller than Allen, but Kevin will have 6″ reach advantage. Allen is the younger man by 3-years.

Holland is a confident, but sometimes frustrating fighter. He can compete almost anywhere the fight goes, offering a capable submission game and long striking attack. Where Holland has struggled at times is with his Fight IQ. Despite have a clear edge over his opponent, he has a tendency to get drawn into a fight that doesn’t always play to his strengths.

Over the course of 4 Octagon outings, Holland has given up a combined 11 takedowns, including 8 over his last 2 fights- but he won them both.

Allen utilized a clinch heavy attack in his last fight, score a knockdown with a knee strike and moved to the RNC. He has recorded  7 wins by submission, 5 by rear-naked choke. On the feet, Allen throws some decent kicks and can do some damage to the body but the majority of his offense centers around closing the distance. His willingness to take damage is concerning as he enters the top level of competition.

With a 5-2 record under the LFA banner, capturing their Middleweight title after a couple of failed bids early in his LFA run.

Holland is a frustrating fighter and he is fighting a teammate of Gerald Meerschaert, who he narrowly missed blowing a winnable fight against. The TDD of Holland is a major concern and that is what Allen is going to look to exploit. If Kevin can scramble back to his feet or to a top position with regularity, he can edge this one out- his luck runs out against a solid ground fighter- my prediction is Brendan Allen to defeat Kevin Allen by decision.

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265lbs- Daniel Spitz (6-2-0) vs Tanner Boser (16-5-1)

The first fight of the night goes down in the Heavyweight division as Daniel “Daddy Long Legs” Spitz takes on Canadian Tanner “The Bulldozer” Boser. Boser was expected to debut back at UFC 240, but his fight was a late scratch- he has lost just once over his last 6 outings. Spitz is 1-2 in the UFC, scoring a knockout win over Daniel Spitz stuck between losses to Mark Godbeer and Walt Harris.

At 6’7″, Spitz will stand 5-inches taller than his foe to go along with a sizable 7″ reach advantage. Boser should tip the scales roughly 10-pounds heavier than his foe.

Spitz hasn’t fought in just over 16-months. The Spokane-native has just a single win outside of the opening round- recording 2 wins by knockout to go along with 3 wins by sub. He appears devoid of the required wrestling to find success on the mat at this level. He moves well but struggles to meld his above-average movement with consistent output.

Against Harris, he did a solid job of limit his opponent’s connection rate but he failed to land much of his own prior to getting finished.

The big Canadian has 8 wins by knockout, but unexpectedly his record is deep in long fight experience. He is 4-0 in bouts that reach the championship rounds and over his last 13 fights he has gone to the 3rd frame or more 12-times. Boser is a methodical striker and focuses a lot of his offense on his kicks, specifically targetting his opponent’s lower half.

“The Bulldozer” has finished multiple opponents with his leg kicks and overall he has stopped 7 opponents after the first round.

Beyond his height, reach, and decent movement Spitz doesn’t offer much. Conversely, Boser’s lack of urgent output could turn this bout into a grind. Look for the leg kicks of the Canadian to play a big role in closing the distance against the taller man. Boser should have the superior cardio which suggests he has a great window for victory- my prediction is Tanner Boser to defeat Daniel Spitz by decision.

 

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 han