UFC 244: MASVIDAL VS DIAZ | TELEVISED PRELIMS PREDICTIONS

UFC 244: MASVIDAL VS DIAZ | TELEVISED PRELIMS PREDICTIONS

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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