UFC 239: Jones vs Santos | Early Prelim Predictions

UFC 239: Jones vs Santos | Early Prelim Predictions

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.